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Rain Forest Grant $s Already in Use
Over $1 Million of Fed Dollars Spent

Zack Kucharski

The Gazette Online

November 14, 2005, 12:01 p.m.

[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.]

CORALVILLE, IA - The majority of spending in 2004 on the proposed $180 million indoor rain forest was done using federal grant money, according to financial disclosures obtained today by The Gazette.

   The $48.329 million in federal grant money the project was given was used to cover all but about $384,000 of the project's $1.48 million in expenditures, according to financial reports filed with federal agencies.

   The project's largest expenditures included $320,977 to its former architecture firm CSP in Boston, $171,742 in expenses in environmental consulting to Environmental Enterprises in Playa Del Rey, Calif., $134,381 in marketing costs with Trilix in Urbandale and $65,000 in lobbyist costs. The project also paid $52,094 in costs to Howard R. Green in Des Moines for environmental assessment work.

   Other highlights of the report, made public Monday by the project include:

   The 2004 financial reports do not reflect some of the project's current status, including an August 2005 switch to London-based Grimshaw Architects and the spending freeze on the federal grant which is awaiting Senate approval.

   While project officials are still in talks to locate the project in Coralville, the proposed site since 2001, the relationship with city leaders there has eroded in recent weeks. Dubuque city leaders last week acknowledged they've had preliminary talks about moving the project there.