Saturday, November 26, 2005

Rain forest developers court 2 cities at once

From the Cedar Rapids Gazette on Friday, by reporter Zach Kucharski:
The Environmental Project leaders have worked actively with Dubuque city officials since at least September on a possible partnership there for the artificial rain forest planned for Coralville, documents show.

That was two months before leaders of the proposed $180 million indoor rain forest gave Coralville until next Friday to meet certain requirements before project leaders look elsewhere.

Talks between The Environmental Project and Coralville have been stalled over the transfer of 22 acres the city has offered near Interstate 80 for the rain forest.

E-mail and letters show rain forest officials have studied about 33.4 acres of vacant land in the northern area of the Port of Dubuque as an alternative site. That is near the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, Diamond Jo Casino and Grand Harbor Resort, along the Mississippi River.

The documents, obtained by The Gazette with an open-records request, show rain forest Executive Director David Oman and Dubuque city officials swapping two e-mails each.

They also show that Oman and former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray, the project's chairman, met with Dubuque officials in Des Moines on Sept. 16 and that Oman, Ray and Des Moines businessman Ted Townsend met with city officials Sept. 29 in Dubuque.

Townsend came up with the rain forest idea as a major attraction for Iowa and has given the project $10 million, plus $250,000 in no-interest loans.

Dubuque City Manager Michael Van Milligen told the rain forest's design consultant in an Oct. 7 e-mail the facility should be blended with the next phase of the city's National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.

He did not want the museum and rain forest competing for federal, state and private funding, he wrote.

``There needs to be a willingness to arrive at an agreement that deals with governance, project scope and administration, and continued management and operation,'' Van Milligen wrote. ``We have that willingness.''

The same day Oman told Van Milligen in an e-mail he would stay in contact with Jerry Enzler, the National Mississippi River Museum executive director.

Oman suggested a non-disclosure agreement so both sides ``can better disclose and learn as much as they care to about the other.'' Such agreements allow groups to share confidential materials but forbid disclosure to an outside party.

Oman also suggested that participants be clear about funding issues.

``This is topline but I wanted to share our read as we move to second base,'' he wrote to Van Milligen.

Communication with Dubuque city officials stopped Nov. 8, three days before the project's board told Oman to once more attempt negotiations with Coralville.

Project officials have long said the Coralville site is ideal because the land next to I-80 provides high visibility to the 50,000 passing vehicles each day and provides room for future expansion.

Oman is traveling and did not return Gazette requests Wednesday or Friday for comment about Dubuque.

Coralville and The Environmental Project are trying to negotiate the transfer of land near the Iowa River.

The city sent its terms to the project's leadership in late August and had, until last week, been waiting for the project's counterproposal.

Ray responded Nov. 18, saying project leaders want at least 25 acres and that the proposed rain forest site needs to be pushed farther south from I-80.

Project leaders also want the land without restrictions, support from all Coralville City Council members and city help raising up to $40 million.

Project and Coralville city officials are to meet at an undetermined time.

Coralville City Council members are not happy.

Council member John Weihe said he believes the project -- which needs to raise $90 million for construction -- is interested in Dubuque because of gambling revenue there.

``If they were fishing for a better deal than what we we're offering, that's probably why they weren't in any hurry to talk to us,'' he said.

Council member John Lundell said the project, and Oman in particular, should have told the city the rain forest was exploring other options.

``It's disappointing to me that while we were having those discussions, he was so actively involved discussing the project with another community,'' Lundell said.

Council member Tom Gill accused project officials of talking out of both sides of their mouth by acknowledging one situation publicly, while pursuing other options privately.

``I've always had this belief that they were and the reason is because of the history of Cedar Rapids and Coralville,'' Gill said, referring to the project's 2001 decision to end talks with Cedar Rapids and relocate in Coralville.

``They were using Coralville as leverage to get some things out of Cedar Rapids.''

Friday, November 25, 2005

Rain forest board members to Coralville: Pony up resources

From the Des Moines Register, a ridiculously one-sided and day-late story by Jennifer Jacobs:
The message from rain forest promoters to Coralville city officials: show us the money and show us the land, or we might explore locating the $180 million project elsewhere.

Days after a U.S. senator turned up the pressure on the slow-progressing rain forest, former Gov. Robert Ray, the chairman of the board of The Environmental Project, wrote a three-page letter giving Coralville officials until Dec. 2 to make commitments on land, money and support.

"I think there are other places that have stepped forward with considerable interest and, before, our people would not talk about that because we were trying to work with Coralville," Ray said in a telephone interview today. "Now if this doesn't work, there's a feeling by the board we should at least listen to what other communities have to say."

Ray's letter, dated Nov. 18, turns the tables on Coralville officials, who have for months expressed doubt that the rain forest's leadership team can ever successfully complete the project.

Sen. Charles Grassley has also grown impatient with the slow pace. On Nov. 9, Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, said he wanted to give the organization until December 2007 to match its entire $50 million federal grant with private donations — or lose the grant altogether. The grant has faced widespread criticism as an example of frivolous spending.

The rain forest board is now asking the city of Coralville to live up to its offer of raising $40 million in private money, Ray said.

"We do not have the option of waiting one year to learn whether local sources totaling $40 million will materialize," Ray wrote in a letter addressed to Coralville Mayor Jim Fausett. "The Environmental Project Board requests some confirmation regarding commitments or intent to provide such funds in order to understand the reality of that offer."

To date, the biggest financial backer has been the U.S. government. Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, negotiated in 2003 for a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Project founder Ted Townsend, a Des Moines businessman, has committed $10 million, and an out-of-state energy company has offered an $11 million in-kind partnership.

Land is another issue. Ray's letter states that the rain forest project requires a minimum of 25 acres "in order to ensure meaningful exterior and interior experiences, and viability for the future."

The city has offered public land next to the Iowa River and Interstate 80, but the Coralville City Council has yet to officially approve the land deal. Some council members have suggested looking for other uses for the land because they’ve seen few signs of progress with the rain forest.

"Support from the community and from city officials is vitally important to building a strong case for a Vision Iowa grant," Ray wrote in the letter.

The Environmental Project board needs to know it has the mayor's personal support and "the expressed written support from all Coralville City Council members," he wrote.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Rain forest wants show of support

From the Iowa City Press-Citizen:
By Adam Pracht

Leaders of a planned $180 million rain forest project want to know that city officials are behind them or they will look at other options.

A Friday letter from the chairman of the project's board of directors, former governor Bob Ray, to Coralville Mayor Jim Fausett said project leaders want assurances in writing that city staff and council members are behind The Environmental Project, among other terms.

In the letter, Ray says that "time is of the essence" and requests a response to the terms on or before Dec. 2.

"If you are unable to meet the above criteria and timeline, the board will have to proceed with exploring other alternatives," Ray said in the letter.

The project would anchor the Iowa River Landing development southeast of Interstate 80 and First Avenue and would involve building an enclosed 4.5 acre rain forest, a more than 1 million gallon aquarium and create teaching and arts performance space.

In addition to wanting written support from Fausett and all city councilors, Ray's letter said project leaders wanted at least 25 acres with a preference of 30 acres -- compared to the 22 acres the city is offering -- and a site farther south from the interstate.

City administrator Kelly Hayworth said that from the beginning, city leaders have said they would help raise about $40 million from a variety of local sources, and Ray's letter stipulates that project leaders want assurances that can happen.

Finally, Ray's letter states that the group also wants the land transferred under a set timetable and "free of any encumbrances."

"More than ever, our board and team believe there is a sense of urgency in determining, once and for all, whether the proposed Iowa River Landing site and the project's relationship with Coralville, will work in the near and long term," Ray said in the letter.

In August, city leaders sent a draft term sheet to project leaders, outlining the conditions under which the city would transfer the land to the project.

Those stipulations included holding project leaders to the basic specifications, setting timeline and fund-raising requirements and tying strings to a $50 million Department of Energy grant, preventing the project from using the money in a location other than Coralville. Since the city sent the terms sheet, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley introduced legislation to freeze that grant until project leaders get matching funds.

Project executive director David Oman, vice president Nancy Quellhorst and Ray did not immediately return phone calls Wednesday afternoon. Fausett also was unavailable.

Hayworth said the letter should lead to a face-to-face meeting and that he wasn't sure whether the terms from the project would be reasonable until that meeting took place.

"I think that they want to get this completed as quickly, as bad, as we do," he said. "I think they're indicating a willingness to get it completed in discussions one way or the other."

Councilor Tom Gill said project leaders would not receive written support from him under the terms Ray's letter sets out, specifically the request for more land, wanting the land free of the city's proposed encumbrances -- which Gill called essential -- and wanting city leaders to ensure $40 million in fundraising.

"How can we raise $40 million when they haven't raised a cent?" Gill said.

He said the coming discussions would be critical.

"I think we're coming to a point where things would have to change drastically for them to come here, or it will just fall apart," he said.

Councilor Jean Schnake said written support from her would require a dramatic change on the project's part. She said it was frustrating that project demands involved less city oversight while simultaneously requiring more city help.

"It just doesn't quite ring with a sense of sincerity," she said.

Councilor John Lundell, meanwhile, who has been a potential swing vote on the land transfer issue, said he had problems with some of the project's terms, though none were "deal busters." Still, he said it was a good sign that project leaders still were willing to talk with the city and hoped Ray's letter would lead to a rapid and definitive answer -- one way or the other.

"I see it as sort of an offering on their part that hopefully will lead to a fruitful and hopefully final decision," he said.

Coralville given deadline on rainforest project

From the Waterloo Courier, via the AP:
Coralville has been given a Dec. 2 deadline to provide more land for a proposed indoor rainforest or risk losing the project to another city.

Organizers of The Environmental Project sent a letter this month to Coralville leaders outlining their demands, including increasing the city's 22-acre site offer by at least three to eight acres.

Project leaders also want written support from all City Council members, as well as confirmation on the city's ability to raise $40 million through local donors.

Earlier this month Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, proposed legislation requiring that project leaders raise at least $50 million in private funds by December 2007 before federal funding can be used.

The Environmental Project can't wait a year to know whether Coralville's money will be there, according to the letter written by Robert Ray, the project's board chairman.

"More than ever, our board and team believe there is a sense of urgency in determining, once and for all, whether the proposed Iowa River Landing site and the project's relationship with Coralville will work near and long term," Ray wrote.

Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth said Wednesday the city could provide the project additional land, but wanted more information before commenting on the project's other requests.

"I could not tell you honestly today whether we can reach terms today or not. I just have no idea," Hayworth said. "That's why we need to have a face-to-face meeting and stop sending agreements back and forth and just once and for all determine this."

The Environmental Project and Coralville have been negotiating terms for the transfer of city-owned land for an artificial rainforest just south of Interstate 80 near the Iowa River.

Project organizers, including Des Moines businessman Ted Townsend, have worked for several years to raise money to build the rainforest, including a 1-million-gallon aquarium, education center, multimedia theater, restored prairie and other features.

Officials estimate the construction phase will create more than 500 jobs and 200 permanent jobs if it opens. They estimate the rainforest will attract up to 1.5 million visitors each year, inject an estimated $187 million annually into the state economy and attract tourists worldwide.

Coralville officials want a say in how the rainforest is built and the right to make budget changes until the rainforest opens in 2009.

No meeting date has been set between the groups.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Senator Chuck Grassley, The Weasel

A reliable reader from Marion emails to say that the Cedar Rapids Gazette has a lead editorial today about the Rainforest project that says Senator Chuck Grassley is writing a bill which will not only give David Oman and the other con-artists two years to come up with matching funds for the $50 million $47.1 million left, but Grassley's also changing the focus of the project from just the Coralville location to all of Iowa. Here's a transcript:
Congress will require the project to raise $50 million before spending the federal government's $50 million, which was being drawn upon to pay project director David Oman's $175,000 salary and other planning expenses. But new legislation also would specify that the project could be built anywhere in Iowa, not solely in Coralville.

That has added fuel to speculation that project planners have been meeting secretly with city officials from Dubuque, something now acknowledged by Dubuque leaders. And that, in turn, might be the last straw for some Coralville officials who have been frustrated with evasive and deceptive answers Oman has given to serious and persistent questions about the project.
This is the first that we thought we've heard of a change in where the money can be spent. This didn't seem to be reported or highlighted in any of the other news stories published this week.

We have been unable to find anything in Thursday, November 10th's Senate Daily Digest or anywhere else on the Senate web site. Naturally, newspapers don't bother to provide the bill numbers. There's nothing like an ignorant public to keep the pork flowing and the backs a'slappin'!

Upon re-reading this Iowa City Press-Citizen story on Wednesday we understand what the Cedar Rapids Gazette is talking about. This section below is what the ICPC quoted from the Grassley legislation (emphasis ours):
"is provided for the Iowa Environmental and Education project to be located in Iowa. No further funds may be disbursed by the Department of Energy until a one hundred percent non-Federal cash and in-kind match of the appropriated Federal funds has been secured for the project by the non-Federal project sponsor: Provided, That the match shall exclude land donations: Provided further, That if the match is not secured by the non-Federal project sponsor by December 1, 2007, the remaining Federal funds shall cease to be available for the Iowa Environmental and Education project."
The highlighted section above is a big difference in wording compared to what Cityview Des Moines said in their Civic Skinny column on October 20th about the original appropriation:
And lastly, even though there have been rumblings about possibly relocating the all-but-dried-up rain forest idea from Coralville to Des Moines, if anyone involved would bother to look at the federal pork legislation regarding the project, they would notice it calls for the behemoth to be built only in Johnson County.
We tried looking for the amendment that Grassley snuck into the bill that was passed on January 22, 2004, but it's almost impossible to locate it to confirm the wording. (Searching for Congressional legislation really sucks. Somebody call Google and index that thing. - Ed.)

If the Cedar Rapids Gazette editorial is correct, and it probably is otherwise why would they mention it, then Senator Chuck Grassley has shown that he's a complete weasel. Yeah, yeah, we already know he's a fauxscal conservative, but if he failed to tell newspapers that the focus of the $50 million $47.1 million pork grant to David Oman and company was changing from Coralville to the entire State of Iowa then that's just plain dirty. No wonder the Coralville City Council is upset! Why aren't newspapers talking about this more?

Oman and his gang of con-artists have had six years to come up with private, non-taxpayer money, and they haven't had any donations. Where does Grassley think this other $50 million is going to come from? Oman spelled it out clearly the other day: $20 million from Vision Iowa (Iowa taxpayers), and at least $20 million from Coralville taxpayers, and a $40 million "loan" against the land that Coralville taxpayers paid for and would be donating to the project.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Rainforest Con-Artists DID Talk To Dubuque's Leaders

From WHO-TV, via the Associated Press:
Iowa Organizers of an indoor rain forest project say they'll give one more shot at working a land deal in Coralville.

If that fails, they'll find another place to build their forest.

Board members of The Environmental Project decided today to continue talks to get 22 acres along Interstate 80.

But hours after that decision, city officials in Dubuque said they've already spoken with organizers about building the rainforest in their city.

That news bothered Coralville leaders, who called the organizers' actions in Dubuque inappropriate.

Wherever the rainforest is built, organizers predict it will become a major tourist attraction.
The Coralville City Council should tell David Oman and Bob "Filthy" Ray to fuck off and take their stupid rainforest somewhere else. It's long overdue.

You think it's bad now? Wait until the thing is being constructed and there's cost overruns. Who do you think is going to be paying for that?

Related: Rainforest Negotiations A Setup? and Fauxscal Conservative Grassley's $50 Million Pork Has Been Bankrolling Day-to-Day Porkforest Operations and Oman's Con Game, Spelled Out

Rainforest Negotiations A Setup?

A reader pointed us to this piece in the Cedar Rapids Gazette's free section:
Rain forest path a slippery slope?
Published: 11/11/2005 5:13 PM
By: Zack Kucharski - The Gazette

CORALVILLE, IA - Some City Council members here say additional negotiations with the group planning to build the $180 million indoor rain forest is a set-up by the project to force negotiations into an impasse and allow the project to move elsewhere.

Council members suspect the project, which is any day expected to provide the city with conditions the city is to meet if the project is to be located here, will raise demands for land and other assistance to levels Coralville can't meet.

''My view of this is they're sending something back to us that we can't accept so that we're the bad guys and they have to leave,'' said City Council member Tom Gill. ''This whole thing is a setup to make us look bad. We keep going back and forth trying to work it, and it just hasn't been working.''

The city sent a list of its terms to project leadership in late August and has since been waiting for a counter-proposal. Board members met Thursday in Amana and told the project's executive director David Oman to once again attempt negotiations with Coralville.

Gill probably has a point in that he's frustrated at being treated like some minor league chump by Oman and his gang of hoity-toity con-artists, but in all honesty we don't see where the rainforest is going to go.

Des Moines? Not a chance. Taxpayers are bogged down with so many projects in Polk County that this couldn't possibly fly.

Davenport? Impossible without all the cities on both sides of the Mississippi banding together, and that ain't ever gonna happen.

Grinnell? You're joking.

Dubuque? They're going to be too busy paying $80+ million for a municipal communications utility that will lose money so a few residents can pay $35 a month to download MP3s, waReZ, and pr0n instead of $40 a month. Plus it isn't along a major interstate.

We can't guess on Tom Gill's hunch, but we think that if Oman and the con-artists behind the Rainforest turn the tables and issue a whole bunch of time-sensitive demands on the Coralville City Council then we think the news media in Iowa and the taxpayers in Coralville should raise holy hell against the following idiots for not recognizing that they're being strung along:

Jim Fausett, Mayor
Phone: 319-351-6338

John Lundell, Council member
Phone: 319-351-1125

John Weihe, Council member
Phone: 319-338-1159

Henry Herwig, Council member
Phone: 319-351-3119

Rain forest to continue working with Coralville

From the Iowa City Press-Citizen:
Following the direction of the rain forest project's board of directors Thursday, project leaders will continue to work with Coralville officials on the details of a contract to transfer more than 20 acres of city-owned land.

David Oman, executive director of the project, said the board of the $180 million Environmental Project voted 14-1 during its meeting in Amana to continue working with Coralville.

"The board felt almost to a one that we should continue our discussions, our communication, and we will," Oman said.

The Environmental Project is planned to anchor a commercial and residential development called the Iowa River Landing southeast of First Avenue and Interstate 80. The project would include a 4.5-acre enclosed rain forest, a more than 1 million gallon aquarium, teaching space and an outdoor performance venue.

Proponents of the project said it would bring 500 construction and 200 permanent jobs, attract 1.1 million to 1.5 million visitors annually and add $187 million to the state every year. But critics have said project leadership has been lacking and question where the final $90 million in funding for the project would come from.

Oman declined to say whether the vote was an indication that the board had discussed moving the project, and would not say who cast the dissenting vote.

On Aug. 23, the Coralville City Council informally approved a draft land transfer contract that would place conditions on transferring the land. It included basic specifications of the project, fundraising requirements and deadlines and a stipulation that a $50 million Department of Energy grant could not be used on any location other than Coralville.

Two months later, Oman said negotiations still are ongoing, but that both sides are committed to coming to a resolution soon.

The board's decision comes a day after Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, announced that with his approval, an appropriations bill was passing through Congress that would freeze the $50 million grant until project leaders came up with non-federal matching dollars, excluding land contributions. Furthermore, the money permanently would be reclaimed if the matching funds were not raised by Dec. 1, 2007.

The grant had been bankrolling the day-to-day operations, with about $2.9 million drawn on the grant. Oman said a number of options were being pursued for funding operations, including seeing if project founder Ted Townsend would front more than the $10 million he initially put forth.

The Coralville branch of the project offices closed in November 2002 because of budget troubles, but later reopened when the $50 million grant was secured. Oman declined to say whether the freezing of that grant meant the Coralville branch might be affected again, saying there's been no discussion of it.

Councilor Tom Gill, who has been critical of the project, said he would be open to more discussions but was doubtful anything would come of it. He said he thought at this point it was a matter of who walked away from the table first.

"I'm sure they were looking elsewhere," Gill said. "I think it's just kind of gamesmanship. Who wants to be the one to take the blame for this?"

Councilor John Lundell said he was frustrated by what he called the project leadership's lack of recognizing Coralville as a vital partner. He said he was pleased by the board's decision, however.

"I'm encouraged that they still want to work with us, and I just hope that this means that they have a little more urgency to get back to us on those terms and conditions," he said.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Oman's Con Game, Spelled Out

From KWWL:
The rain forest project is expected to cost $180 million. If the land donation from Coralville goes through and if the federal grant stays, that's worth $100 million.

Project organizers say they will work with the city to get $20 million from Vision Iowa. Oman says they also need $20 million from local donors. And $20 million from corporations.

Oman says a loan against the land would pay the rest of the bill.

One key is inking a deal with Coralville for the land. "The direction from the board is to see one more time if we can work out some of these issues with Coralville."

Oman says there are no plans to move the project out of Coralville, but that could change, if project organizers and the city can't make a deal.

A $40 million loan against the land? With what??????? How's that going to be paid off?

$20 million from Vision Iowa?

$20 million from local donors? $20 million from corporations? They've had six years to raise money and have come up with nothing.

And how does the project continue to be $180 million after the last few years? Isn't inflation ever factored, or will that be factored on the back end?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Grassley: Two Years Left To Raise Money

From the Des Moines Register:
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who helped secure $50 million in federal money for a rainforest dome in Iowa, has persuaded the Senate to require rainforest backers to raise private money for the rest of the project within two years or lose the federal money.

Grassley said his initiative is aimed at generating additional resources for the Iowa Environmental Project, which is working to construct an educational rain forest in Iowa.

In 2003, Grassley secured a $50 million federal appropriation to help pay for part of the project, which has a total estimated cost of $150 to $200 million.

“I want this project to succeed because it’s a big opportunity for Iowans from start to finish." he said.

"Its construction will create jobs. When finished, it will be a tourist destination and a leading environmental education center,” Grassley said.

“However, the project will never become a reality if the majority of the funding isn’t raised from private benefactors and other sources. Until the project can demonstrate its ability to raise that money, I can’t let federal tax dollars be frittered away.”

The new Grassley language will be part of the annual appropriation for energy and water projects for fiscal year 2006. Other energy-related projects in this year’s appropriation bill are also required to match the federal dollars provided.

The $50 million for the Iowa Environmental Project was released by the U.S. Department of Energy for the rain forest project in September 2004. The project is required to file quarterly reports with the department detailing its expenditures.

Grassley’s 2005 language will prevent the Energy Department from approving all additional expenditures until matching money totaling $50 million has been raised from non–federal sources.

The most recent records available from the Iowa Environmental Project indicate that approximately $2.9 million of the $50 million federal appropriation has been spent.
Chief Oman and company have had two years since the money was appropriated to raise private funds. Since the project was announced in 1999 they've had over 6 years to raise private funding.

Show me the money!

Oman Attends A Conference

From the Iowa City Press Citizen:
Rain forest ideas on display

Designers attend environmental conference

By Adam Pracht
Iowa City Press-Citizen

CORALVILLE -- Architects and consultants with an enclosed rain forest project are attending a conference on environmentally conscious architecture starting today with plans to promote the project and to bring back ideas for it.

The $180 million Environmental Project, planned to anchor the Iowa River Landing development southeast of Interstate 80 and First Avenue, would include a 4.5 acre enclosed rain forest, a one million gallon aquarium and teaching space.

David Oman, the project's executive director, said the structure should also exemplify the principles of the U.S. Green Building Council.

The council gives a certification, called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, to buildings that meet standards for design and materials that are friendly to the environment, use renewable energy sources and are healthy to their tenants.

Oman said those concepts are being incorporated into the rain forest design, making it a showcase of Green Building Council concepts. Oman said the president of the council, Rick Fedrizzi, is also a member of the project's board and has been supportive of the rain forest.

"They see many similarities between their mission and ours," Oman said. "We've been very appreciative of their interest."

The fourth annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo 2005 begins today in Atlanta and runs until Friday and should attract 450 exhibitors of businesses and organizations employing Green Building Council standards. More than 8,000 people from 21 countries attended the 2004 conference.

Representatives of Grimshaw Architects and RDG Inc., who will be designing the rain forest together, will attend the conference and present their green building techniques.

Grimshaw representatives will talk about a software tool called Environmentally Viable Architecture, which helps architects better understand the environmental effects of their designs. Grimshaw spokesman Georgia Wright said the tool was used with the Eden Project in England -- a similar project to The Environmental Project -- and would be used with the rain forest project in Coralville as well.

Wright said she was sure the architects would come away with new ideas, and it was possible some of them would find their way into the rain forest project.

But just as importantly, Wright said, the rain forest project would get exposure at a high level.

"It is important for projects to be mentioned at conferences ... to make them known to a wider audience. This benefits both the project and Grimshaw, and I'm sure it will have an effect at Greenbuild," she said.

Environmental consultant with the project, John Picard, and marketing consultant Kris Moorman also are attending the conference.

Oman also said it was important for others interested in green buildings to understand the project and see potential in it.

He said project officials were keen to learn what the consultants and architects learned at the conference and said it was likely the project would send a more official delegation to next year's expo.

"We certainly expect people will come back with good ideas, some of which could also be woven into our thinking," Oman said. "No one has a corner on good ideas."

Who's paying for this?

Show me the money, Oman!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Rainforest Soon To Be Dead Dead Deadski

From DM Cityview Online in the Civic Skinny column this week (no point linking since their pages change from week-to-week):
As it's been reported, the Coralville City Council and city officials are so disenchanted with the rain forest project that they're getting ready to pull out altogether. As a preemptive move, the rain forest organizers think they can move the project closer to Des Moines (they cannot, as it can only be built in Johnson County), perhaps along I-80 in Grinnell. But here's the real kicker. Coralville officials actually think they can keep the $50 million in federal dollars allocated for the rain forest and spend it somewhere else, which a Washington insider told us might be the dumbest thing he's ever heard. "It's dead. The $50 million is gone," he said.
Grinnell???? That's insane.

We hereby declare the Rainforest dead dead deadski.