Letters to the Editor
Iowa City Press-Citizen
April 1, 2004
Quentin Adams, Facility Offers Economic Benefits
Sonia Ettinger, Consider Zoo Costs, Revenues
Wendy Gronbeck, Next Project: An Iowa Prairie
Facility offers economic benefits
The rain forest going into Coralville is a good idea because even though it takes a lot of tax money, the money that comes in from the facility will do immense good to the well-being of our small community and will put us on the map of tourist attractions ("Many concerns remain on proposed rain forest," March 26).
The tourist benefits also will support other areas of the community, including hotels, and encourage development for the couple of thousand of jobs that it will bring to Coralville. Another good benefit of this project is it will help scientists study rain forest animals in a controlled environment, will promote rain forest conservation and will raise awareness of the rain forest depredation problem in South America.
Overall, this project only can do some good for our community and the whole area. It should be built.
I's like to know the costs of operating Chicago's Brookfield Zoo swamps, forests and other similar tropical exhibits ("Rain forest spells $85M," March 23). I visited the zoo earlier this month and would comment that these costs would be a fraction of the costs of the edifice proposed in Coralville.
It is totally insufficient to propose an indefinite ecology without a definite plan of which animals are supposed to be part of this environment. Kirkwood Community College horticulturalists are very knowledgeable, but their expertise is not in the maintenance costs of a tropical rain forest.
The Brookfield Zoo has high charges and very high membership fees - and this is a city of millions with millions of tourists. What does the city of Coralville think will sustain the enormous costs of this project? The area has only thousandths of the population. I doubt people are going to spend a night of hotel costs to see the museum and they are not going to make a short stop while driving to pay high entry costs. Football traffic is only a few Saturdays a year.
The schools have many needs. Museum visits are useful, but this is an inappropriate use of $50 million of federal funds. This state could use those funds in far more creative educational ways. Who is this being built for? The schools? I think not. Have parents been polled? I think not. Who will foot the bills? Who will absorb the losses? This is a boondoggle of gigantic proportions and the whole project should be re-evaluated in light of community needs and in light of maintenance costs and responsibilities.
I hope rain forest project leaders will consider my proposal for their next project: If they put one of their big domes over my backyard, we can call it "An Iowa Prairie." They can import wild turkeys, alligator turtles, green herons, mallards, foxes and coyotes. People will come!
And while they wander through the prairie grasses and greenbriers, they will look up to see indigo buntings and orioles. Imagine the look on a school child's face when a red tail hawk swoops overhead or a coot splashes into the bog. In the forest section, they can plant columbine and gooseberries.
The cost should be quite manageable since they won't have to change the climate. Or the plants. Or the animals. People will drive quite a ways to see such biodiversity and to learn about this unique environment.
After we finish "An Iowa Prairie," then they need to think really big. How about an indoor blizzard in Brazil? What Brazilian child wouldn't be thrilled by the chance to watch huge snowplows imported from North Dakota? And mom and dad will enjoy the adventure of driving into a snowdrift and being towed. It will enrich their lives.
Then, how about a big dome thrown up over a massive hog lot? They can put on big rubber boots and wander knee deep through - oh well, that's probably something they're used to by now.