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Rain Forest Site to be Picked in Early June

Mary Zielinski

The Gazette

April 26, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by The Gazette, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of The Gazette.]

    RIVERSIDE — A site for The Environmental Project, known as the indoor rain forest, will be chosen in early June, the project’s CEO David Oman said Tuesday.

    He spoke during an hourlong presentation to officials and investors of the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, and officials from Riverside and Washington, as well as Washington and Johnson counties.

    The meeting was held in what will be the high stakes slot machine room of the casino.

    Riverside is one of the final four sites chosen from 16 cities that indicated interest after it appeared that Coralville would not be the location, Oman said.

    Besides Riverside, the cities are Grinnell, Tiffin and Pella.

    Oman stressed that all four met four specific criteria: lots of land; good ambience; access, especially proximity to Interstate 80; and a good partnership relationship with the project, the city and other interests.

    In the case of Riverside, the other interest is the casino resort, whose CEO Dan Kehl said Tuesday the rain forest and the casino resort would be an ‘‘anchor for the south corridor that can stretch from Cedar Rapids to here.’’

    Oman said groundbreaking for the rain forest could begin early in 2007 with completion in late 2009.

    Of course, that is if all the financing falls into place.

    No mention was made of any possible contribution from the city of Riverside, but previous discussions have indicated a match possibly totaling $25 million.