to Nicholas Johnson's Coralville Rain Forest Web Site
Rain Forest Official Leaves Job
Stilwill to Serve as Consultant for Now
January 12, 2006
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Stilwill hopes to rejoin the project after a site for the long-promis e d $180 million world-class tourist destination once slated for Coralville is chosen and design work advances, he told The Gaz e t t e o n Wednesday.
‘‘I’m just not comfortable being on a payroll if I’m not pulling my full weight as part of that,’’ Stilwill said of his Jan. 1 job change. ‘‘It’s not a problem for me to pick up some other things for a while.’’
Educational concepts for the project have moved forward, but Stilwill said much of the remaining details depend on the site chosen for the project and its design.
‘‘There’s not much point in my going to school districts and working out post-secondary courses or too much along the lines of science education initiatives until we can target a location and an opening date,’’ said Stilwill, who joined the project in September 2004 at an annual salary of $140,000.
Stilwill’s departure from a full-time position is expected to help the cash-strapped project, which is relying heavily on financing from Des Moines businessman and project founder Ted Townsend. The project is restricted from spending any more of a $50 million federal grant until rain forest officials raise $50 million in non-federal funds.
David Oman, executive director of The Environmental Project, the group proposing the indoor rain forest, was in Brazil and unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Rain forest officials said last month they would look to other Iowa towns after failing to reach an agreement on a 22-acre site in Coralville.
While Coralville remains a possible site for the rain forest, project officials are in discussions with other communities — including Des Moines, Dubuque, Riverside, Grinnell and Tiffin — about locating there. A final site selection is expected in March.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the project’s future, Stilwill said he remains a vocal project supporter. ‘‘I really believe in the project,’’ said Stilwill.