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Grassley: Top Worry is Funding Not Location

Pamela Brogan

Gannett News Service
[Iowa City Press-Citizen]

December 9, 2005

[Note: This material is copyright by the Gannett News Service and the Press-Citizen, 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 Iowa City Press-Citizen.]

WASHINGTON -- Republican Sen. Charles Grassley's top concern with a planned $180 million rain forest project in Iowa is whether the federal financial share -- $50 million -- will be spent wisely, not the project's location.

"He does not have anything to do with where the project is built in Iowa," his spokeswoman, Beth Levine, said Thursday. "We know that Coralville officials have worked hard on this, but Senator Grassley has no role in where the project goes."

Concern about where the rain forest would be located heightened Thursday when backers of the project told Coralville officials they would open negotiations with other Iowa cities.

Negotiations between project backers and Coralville officials stalled over the use of a 22-acre site south of Interstate 80 where the city proposed to locate the rain forest. Also Thursday, Coralville officials said they would be looking at other ways to develop the property.

In November, Grassley tucked an amendment into a spending bill that requires rain-forest-project officials to raise $50 million in matching funds by Dec. 1, 2007, before additional federal money is spent on the effort. President Bush signed the bill into law on Nov. 19.