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Rainforest Leader Says the Project is Still Alive

Stella Shaffer

Radio Iowa
[original link:]

February 1, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by Radio Iowa, 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 Radio Iowa.]

The end of the month was a deadline for towns with an interest in the Iowa Rainforest Project to send in financial information. Executive Director David Oman says despite delays and setbacks, the project is still alive and to prove it, asked towns around the state to send proof that they might have the financial ability to host it. Oman says about a month ago they decided to send out a request for information. Now the information's come in, it looks like they'll have about a dozen sites to consider.

Oman says they've heard from a number of cities still interested in taking part in the project.Oman says they've heard from a number of cities and developers including Dubuque, Pella, Grinnell, and Tiffin and expect to hear from two or three more. And by the end of the day they'd also gotten a report from Riverside, where a new casino is under construction and some promoters have said an indoor rainforest would be just the family attraction to add to it.

He adds that a number of people have been positive about having it in Des Moines, including Mayor Cownie. Oman says "He gets it, he understands the project celebrates education and the environment," though he can't say what city leaders might say about Des Moines vying to get the rain forest.

Oman says the indoor rain forest will be one of the country's largest "green buildings," powered by alternative and renewable sources of energy. He says there'll be a lot of environmental content inside and outside, all aimed at bringing a million visitors to its site in Iowa and he figured it'll "kick up" 150-Million dollars a year in economic activity. Oman says it'll create "something that's our Gateway Arch, or our Space Needle," that'll bring people to stop in Iowa instead of leaving us "fly-over country."

Late last year, the city of Coralville said it would look for another use for a plot of land that had been considered for the Rain Forest, but Oman says it's still among the contenders.