MUSLIM CAMPS OF AMERICA REPRESENTATIVE JOE AOSSEY: PROPOSAL FOR MUSLIM CAMP ON CORPS OF ENGINEERS LAND
Jordahl: Alright I think that we are going to get back in order here and back up to the beginning. Item 3, business from Joe, Now forgive me if I go astray on this, Aossey.
Muslim Youth Camps of America Representative Joe Aossey: Aussie, like Australia.
Jordahl: I have variously pronounced it like that in my phone messages I think and are you Joe sir?
Joe Aossey: Thank you, thanks for the opportunity to come here.
Jordahl: Thanks for coming down.
Joe Aossey: Iím sorry that, I was under the impression that we started at 9:30 but that is our fault.
Jordahl: Well it probably could be shared responsibility, I could have called you a day or so in advance and said; say Joe here is how things are. Directions to the building and stuff so I apologize for that.
Joe Aossey: Anyway we are very pleased to be here. Let me introduce the people who have come with me.
Jordahl: Uh huh.
Joe Aossey: Mark Chaffee, Manzoor Ali is our president. Dale Nixson is one of the people on the steering committee, and Bill Aossey here is a businessman from Cedar Rapids. Why donít you ask a question or 2 so that we can start this thing.
Jordahl: OK, we received a kind of proposal of what this project was going to look like. It was kind of a blend of a continuation of the existing use of camp with some additional development that would accommodate year round conference center at work and there was some additional communication that I heard about a neighborhood association, that is a subdivision that is neighboring the property talking about a change in the groupís name and some modification of the description of purpose or something and we havenít seen that any documentation regarding that as a Board and let me see there was another piece of that too but maybe that was enough to start responding to you here. What is the dates that make the project change?
Joe Aossey: The name of our group is Muslim Youth Camps of America. Our objective is a multi-cultural activity base. Unfortunately for the Islamic religion, we get a bit of bad press here in the United States. The Islamic religion constitutes somewhere around 20% of the people on the globe. And Islamic people did not start coming here to the United States until around 1875 or 1880 and it was well known in the Islamic world that slavery was a problem here and that if you might be the wrong color you might be inducted into a livelihood that you particularly did not like. So there was a great deal of resistance coming here from the Mediterranean and Africa and Asia in general. But our ancestors came here well over 100 years ago and we have lived here in Iowa for well over 100 years. There are 5; 6 generations of people here by this time. I donít know how familiar you are with the culture of southern Spain from 700 - 1400, but the names of Cordova and Grenada and Toledo, Spain. These are all multi-cultural places that in the year 900 there was a library in Cordova that had 400,000 manuscripts in it. And the Europeans werenít quite sure how to pump water yet. So our interest is to make people more aware of the culture of the world and to work in general. We are a peaceful community and so our interest is peaceful development, multi-cultural development. The camp is open to all religions. It is open to all ethnic entities. And we are striving to ensure that there is a diversified active base there. I think the neighbors may be concerned that we might be taking too many people down there. Ultimately, we hope that by the time 3 or 4 years pass we will be able to accommodate 120 kids a week. That is a goal but it is going take a little bit of work to get there. There will be 10 or 15 people administrating the camp. So we donít think that we are going to increase the traffic all that much. On the other hand our understanding right know is that there are 700 or 800 cars a day down there.
Jordahl: On the road?
Joe Aossey: Yes, and I donít know if that is accurate orÖ
Jordahl: We have a í98 traffic count that is due from DOT in a couple of weeks and weíll have better information about this at that time. The concern of the Board as really the traffic is what additional traffic will result from the development of this camp
Joe Aossey: Yes
Thompson: More than that, where will they park? What our concern is that they will try to park on that road where there really isnít any parking available.
Joe Aossey: Yes there isnít any parking right. We are in the process of employing an architect and we are as you can see in the process of working with the Corps of Engineers and with you. And we will be pleased to accommodate everybodyís interest. We have talked about the idea of we have to hire parking, rent a parking space down in North Liberty or even down here in Iowa City. Weíll provide bus transportation. Weíll go that far if that is a necessary option. So you know we are interested in being good neighbors.
Jordahl: Have you spoken with the City of North Liberty about a parking space there?
Joe Aossey: Not yet, because this is, the newspaper articles got a little ahead of us. So which is one of those things, you know, society like we live in so it is important.
Joe Aossey:We have not gone to the City of North Liberty yet because we do not know what to go for.
Muslim Youth Camps of America Representative Mark Chaffee: Well we did talk about the school district, cause Penn Elementary being down there.
Joe Aossey: Why donít you come up here, cause youíve had more interface. Mark has had more interface with everybody down here than anybody else has and so he has been talking to people. He has been working with the Corps since January or February.
Chaffee: January. The concern of the parking was one of our first concerns too because we wanted to make sure people were going to park somewhere near whether the were going to let children off or pick them up and move their luggage around and what not. In the design of the site, what we hope to be able to do is several fold. One is we want to reduce as much as possible the amount of traffic on site as well as on the road. It destroys the nature of the site if you have a lot of cars on the site. The site isnít such as if any of you have been out to the old Camp Daybreak site, it isnít a big flat site, so there isnít a lot of space that you can do things in that the Corps will allow you access to because actually 2 thirds of the site is virtually untouchable. There is the one area of the site that has the osprey nestbox on it for instance which is probably a 30 acre piece on the Eastern end of the site. The other side is just typical Coralville reservoir ravines you know up and down up and down so you are not going to park a lot of cars in that environment either. So if you go up the site there is a central trail that goes down the rib of the main ridge and then there is a secondary trail that parallels right along, I just lost the name of the road there. Well Scales bend goes up there, 20th street breaks off and the neighborhood association is thatÖ
Joe Aossey: 200
Chaffee: No 200th street is the thing the breaks off at the. Itís a private road, itís aÖwhat ever it is though anyway there is a
Jordahl: Cumberland Ridge is the Neighborhood Association
Chaffee: Cumberland Ridge, alright itís Cumberland, yes itís Cumberland Ridge all right. So on the side of the property of the Federal land there is a secondary road, secondary drive that goes right down that road. And that is one of the things that we had looked at simply widening a little bit and graveling out and providing sort of like diagonal parking on it. But it would be like after they would go down into the site, drop their kids off and then maybe park there for a little bit of time that parents will do. But the other thing that is different about the site than say a local, regional camp like (inaudible) is that we donít expect a lot of youth will be coming from within, in other words that every family is going to be delivering their kids there. There will be kids that will be coming by bus, there will be kids that will be coming by plane, because of the nature of the camping outreach. So we are not expecting, even though we are expecting 120, we hope to get to 120 campers. We are not expecting 120 families every weekend to be picking kids up and dropping kids off. So Ö.
Thompson: Actually our concerns with your written plan were more focused on the convention aspects of the conferences, where you said you had 250 people coming at once. We didnít think that the parking in North Liberty and the busing was probably going to work. Most people would think that doesnít apply to me and go to the site and try to park there. And we are thinking it will be on a county road making it inaccessible to other people.
Chaffee: That is all something that is an interesting question that so far in our research, there are camps that do this because there camps that are simply kept vehicle inaccessible so that they maintain a certain pristine nature.
Jordahl: Bill wanted to say something.
Muslim Youth Camps Representative Bill Aossey: Yes one point of information. Yes my name is Bill Aossey from Cedar Rapids. The proposed camp is on a 2 week cycle so it is not as though there are 120 new campers every week because of economics, travel, and the structure of learning. It is proposed that the camp will run in 2 week cycles so any of the campers that come will stay a minimum of 2 weeks and then there is a second proposal that as you well know most of you being from Iowa City, there is a very diverse culture within the University structure itself. You have many students and professionals from literally around the world here. Iíve served in Peace Corps, Iíve served with Dale Nicholson in Saudi Arabia and literally faithfully worked and taught more than 10 years in some 70 countries. So our objective as Joe said is to have a multi-culture. Now any students coming say from Malaysia or the Mediterranean area would most likely stay for one month. They would stay 2, 2 week cycles. So it is not as though we are going to have a turnover every week of 120 campers. Many of them may stay as long as 6 weeks. The second point of information as we understand it is that you will be getting the DOT traffic report. The highest traffic flow as we understand it is between June and September during the summer months. So the traffic flow will be off from September through May. Any proposed conferences or unionization of a camp throughout the non-traditional camping season of June- September will be an actually reduced traffic flow on the road and we will not enhance or contribute to an overflow because the normal camping traffic will be down from the other facilities. So we donít look at any year around increase in traffic.
Joe Aossey: Carol, I want to address the issue of the conference traffic. We wonít allow a heavy traffic for conferences simply because we donít want to contaminate the camping area with a lot of cars and it itís alcohol free, itís smoke free, and we are going to try and minimize the aggression. Hopefully it will be aggression free when we get done. So we will address that traffic condition for the conferences straight forward in that we will not allow a cars up there, weíll arrange for that.
Chaffee: Well we are also still in the development stage of each of these details because our first objective had to be to meet the deadlines of the Core for the application. Which did not mean that we had to have all the little details worked out. But just in writing the proposal, when I was writing the proposal and we were moving through this process, part of what we were trying to make sure that we were doing was to have as little impact in the neighborhood as possible because I understand the whole problem of you know of like Iím living out here in the country, because Iím a country kid and my nearest neighbor is over a mile away. So I know what it is like and why you live in those spaces and so in designing the site we had utmost in our mind everything that we could to figure out how do we maintain a certain level of quiet, a certain level of low impact and so on. Each of these organizations that come for conferences or whatever will be in a sense given the responsibility to make sure that they contain their traffic flow and that has to do with people pooling their driving resources from the beginning of the process, so that they are coming not as single cars but whatever. And then we will also do what it takes, work with the school district or University or whatever to find the parking facilities necessary to do the shuttling. To us anyway thatís not nothing that canít be overcome very quickly and very easily.
Thompson: Well you can see what our concern is. That road has no parking on it. Itís got ditches.
Chaffee: No, I agree and I understand that sure, sure.
Thompson: There is not a place to park. So if you are parking you have to be partly on the road and if you say that there is no parking inside the camp and someone is late or they choose not to use the shuttle thing where are they going to try to park.
Joe Aossey: I think inside that gate weíll allow, weíll have to allow for twenty or thirty cars of parking inside that gate.
Mark Chaffee: Well actually I donít want to put numbers on stuff because this is still part of the development site of parking is that we are still trying to figure this all out. But as I said this parallel road that follows down Cumberland ridge is quite a lengthy piece of road and with a little widening on it and diagonal parking would accumulate would be able to handle quite a number of cars. So it is not as ifÖ(inaudible)
Jordahl: There is a chair here Bill if you want to come up to the table.
Mark Chaffee: It is not as if we are not going to have no parking on the site, it is that we will have controlled parking on the site, OK.
Thompson: And is that visible from the housing development.
Mark Chaffee: No because there is a line of trees that separates the
Mark Chaffee: And also the road like runs, it is kind of like 4 feet down from the Cumberland Ridge so it is like a sunken path off of it.
Jordahl: Bill had another point.
Bill Aossey:Yes, the compound what Mark was saying in the past there has been parking on site and the number of spots are not designated, but last year I went to a camp in Minnesota and 4 years ago one in Mount Vernon, North Hill, Massachusetts. Both of those were in isolated areas and just as one meets a shuttle at the airport, those 2 experiences people had to congregate in town or ate the airport and there was a shuttle bus that would take the family and/or the camper or whoever had an interest to go to the site to leave their cars at a specific area. So that is one of the consideration no different than having a shuttle bus that goes between an airport and hotels, motels, etc.
Jordahl: The difference being that the airport has a parking lot.
Jordahl: And thatís kind of the
Bill Aossey: Or a motel, but we have not designated it but there is consideration where there would be a focal point on a specific day between set hours, where either campers and or families would congregate at a as I say perhaps a motel or airport or what have you. And that would be comparable to a shuttle bus, but again keeping in mind we are not turning over campers every week for financial, administrative, and the cost of the campers coming. They will stay a minimum of 2 weeks. And then some of them will stay 4 weeks and then some perhaps who have higher achievements in linguistics, computer skills may stay as much as 6 weeks. So there is a possibility that a third of the campers may stay a month to 6 weeks which decreases the potential traffic of people coming and going.
Jordahl: That is again the summertime scenario that the conference scenario people would probably be shorter time which I can maybe you know between one and 5 tops days, and larger numbers as well. I mean I got the sense from the proposal that really the larger aspect of this project, although your hearts may be more in like the camping and the development of youth side of it that the financial aspect of the camp or perhaps the numbers of people involved is going to be heavier on the conference side of it.
Bill Aossey: Not really, I serve on the Iowa Sister State Committee for Iowa-Malaysia throughout the year and itís not on a weekly basis, but throughout the year through Iowa Sister State with Malaysia, Yucatan, Mexico, (inaudible) Russia, Kobe, China, Venice, Italy. There are groups or delegations that come throughout the year. They may not be large. Right now it is a problem for Sister-State to find locations to host these foreign delegations. So when we are talking as Joe said, both by religious and government laws, there will be no alcohol on the premise. It will be smoke free so when we are talking about conferences and delegations it may be one month a group from Malaysia, another month somebody from Strobacolen Russia or Yucatan Mexico, but they will not be in large numbers and staying for long durations. I mean it is a thing of building a facility that can be utilized throughout the year without intense utilization but at the same time that you donít invest in a facility that is dormant 9 months of the year.
Joe Aossey: The other thing that I think needs to be clarified is that our contract with the Corps of Engineers specifies that any money left over at the end of the year goes to the Corps of Engineers. We either have to utilize the income for the camp facility and for bringing students or paying tuitions, things like that. So at the end of the year any money left over goes to the Corps of Engineers. So this can not in any way be under any way construed as a profit making situation or being a thing where we bring a lot of heavy hitters in on weekends to write big checks and big cars coming and going. So this, the ongoing facility will not be a normal hotel type of retreat situation.
Jordahl: Yes, I think the profit was the impression that the proposal gave. Of course the profit being reinvested in the camp develop nice facilities if it were profitable.
Joe Aossey: Sure, but we canít take the money and go anywhere with it.
Joe Aossey: So all the money that comes in there has to stay there or go back to the Corps of Engineers.
Mark Chaffely: But I think there is 2 things to this that are also very important and dynamic. One is as you know as a governing body, when people come before you with a proposal they want to come before you again to extend the proposal so to speak, alright. I mean they try to make sure all your bases are hit first so that you can have the space that you are trying to do. Alright you are all County Supervisors and you are all quite familiar Iím sure with what it is like to get a proposal through the Federal levels. I mean the levels of bureaucracy slow. It is going to take us now 6 months on environmental impact study to make sure that the neighborhood association is pleased. That whole process slows everything way down. So when you write the proposal you try to make sure that everything that could happen is covered. So if you have a group of people coming in that could be this large, then you try to make sure that the government knows that the Corps knows this might happen so that you donít have to explain after the event that happened and oh it wasnít in the thing and oh we need to write a proposal to do that, and OK alright, alright. So part of this is to also recognize that in this proposal we are trying to make sure that all bases are covered so that we have room to grow and that we have the potential to meet the needs of the Corps in trying to meet whatever their environmental questions are that trigger certain things for them in terms of bureaucratic structures and rules and that we are then making sure that everybody included understands that if this happens on a certain weekend where you have 250 people there, which would probably for us as we look at it be an unusual number. At least people were prepared that it might happen. In the outreach of it as Bill had mentioned there is a lot of international work that we are envisioning as part of the marketing of the site. This is one of the things that the group is very deeply committed because of its business relationships to an international environment and I donít know what you know about the Muslim community, but here in the United States right now it currently is encompassing 48 nationalities. So the camp has to have this immense multi-cultural focus to it and have that sort of an outreach to it. In trying to then use this as a conference and retreat facility one of the things we wanted to do is like if we are going to build this what we consider to be a beautiful and wonderful project in the neighborhood of what we also consider, I mean Iím a Ph. D. student here at the University in Sociology, Iíve taught here for quite some time, far longer than my department would like. But in the process of the thatÖ
Joe Aossey: In the process of running you off.
Mark Chaffely: No, well they would love to. But anyway we have, the commitment of the group is to really try and build something that the community can make good use of . So we canít for instance make this a conference site for Rockwell. It is not a business. Business canít come and use the site, alright. It has to be a non-profit organization. This was not something that we were aware of again as we are writing the proposal we are trying to make sure all bases are covered and we were informed recently by the Corps, by the way make sure non of the retreat and conference meetings are from profit organizations. They have to be by non-profit organizations, OK. So that is the kind of stuff as we go through the process too, we are learning how this works for us and what this going to mean. The other piece is that what is really important about the conference and retreat facility for us is because we are also reaching into a community that economically in the United States is not only under served with camping facilities, but is also economically stressed in the United States. The reason that this is in the sense the first of its kind in the United States is in part because these kids normally are not in a family structure that for many of them are similar to the Lutherans and the Presbyterians and the Catholics and the Jews and so on and so forth have this structure that they can just feed their kids into in the summertime. It is not there because they have not economically had the where with all to do it. Something like 30% of all mosques are store front mosques, alright. So part of what the conference and retreat mechanism is to be able to do is provide a financial income stream that allows us to provide scholarships for kids who could not get to camp otherwise. And so when we hear the neighborhood association going oh this sounds like a for profit group, it is like they donít understand what we are trying to do in terms of reaching out into the community of under served youth in the United States and getting them camping experience that we also hope serves as a foundation towards higher education and a number of other things. Iím not sure if you remember reading in the proposal but one of the commitments that the group is trying to build is that if we bring kids out of urban experiences of immigrant and African-American, Muslim identity. Although the site is not about a religious identity, this is our market. It is just similar to having a Lutheran camp. Anybody can go to a Lutheran camp but most of the time it is a lot of Lutheran kids, alright. And our outreach and marketing will be heavily towards the Muslim community because of its under served nature, but it is also the case that know that you donít bring kids out that economic stress environment and go look here is middle America and look at it. You know you have this nice camping facility and isnít it beautiful and great and everything and then send them back and that is it, you know hope you had a nice time. But also then to try and build a commitment with them like come to camp and we are going to try and do what we can to help walk with you through the process and attainment of a higher education. So we canít do this through the site in terms of like the conference and retreat center canít build that scholarship base but it is also one of the commitments of the group is to try and then in itís fundraising reach into the world and go these are kids that we are trying to help get to college and so we are going to try not just have scholarships to get to camp, but to follow as many as we can and help them get to college. So that is part of the other process.
Joe Aossey: Further on Mark said. Maybe we might be a bit idealistic. But as Mark stated this is the first camp of this type in North America and one has to also keep in context; what was the basis of your YMCA, YWCA, or Boys Home in Nebraska when they started. What was the foundation of that? And what we are trying to do something for society, for youth. What happened in Colorado, what has happened in a number of schools. Shows that there is a tremendous need for youth development, youth guidance, youth attention. So as YWCA started, YMCA started, right now people think of those as a general community center. It is not thought of as Young Menís Christian Organization or Young Womenís Christian Association. There are thought of as the institution that serves society and our objectives and ideals are in the same road and same context. But to makeÖ The first mosque built in North America was built in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. And some of the first Islamic conferences were held in Cedar Rapids. So Iowa both within the state and nationally, and in the International Islamic Community is a focal point and what we are doing; again the first Islamic cemetery in North America was built in 1948, or established as I should say. So what we are doing is no different than what the premise of YMCA, YWCA, or Boys Camp was and we are asking for your consideration and hopefully the neighbors that have a concern at some point may even consider putting one of their people as an advisor or an observer to our board of directors.
Jordahl: The interesting distinction that it falls outside of the privy of the board of supervisors to decide about is this question of religious organization, for me it is a question personally and I donít belabor this. That the YMCA example that you used, I mean I donít know anything about the history of how those structures came to be built in cities. My suspicion is though that they bought the land and that they owned it privately and what we are talking about here is a use of federal land. Iím just curious about the constitutional basis of that. I know that there are certain links between religious organizations doing, I mean we have contracts with Lutheran social services for example to provide some of our juvenile crime intervention programming. But they competed in a grant process with a number of other providers who provide a similar service, so Iím curious to the constitutional aspect of this. But it is something that board is going to pass judgment on one way or the other. I see a hand here, Mr. Ali is the name?
Muslim Youth Camps of America President Manzoor Ali: Manzoor Ali.
Jordahl: Sir, he wanted to speak.
Ali: Yes, with your permission if you wanted.
Jordahl: Yes come forward. You can bring a chair with you if you like there is plenty of room to sit here.
Ali: No, no. I think we donít want to take much of your time but in the meantime I want to be more specific because Mark has already explained what we are and what are our plans. The reason Iím lucky or unlucky to be the president of this board you know. So Iím proud of that. Iím talking to your official letter that you addressed to John Castle on May 20. In that letter actually you, the Board has 3 main concerns. One is primarily the traffic. And I think it was explained it in detail about that. I donít want to repeat that and I think that is really well explained. The other is that again the frequency of the traffic. They also explained that, and if you have more questions we are more than happy to do that. The third concern that actually expressed in this Board of Supervisors meeting was the environmental concern, about the waste treatment and the water waste treatment and all that stuff. The reason that Iím rereading this, that we had a meeting that (inaudible) and (inaudible) in detail in the last couple of weeks. In that meeting, it was really well-attended by the real estate people, and I have their names if you want to. The names given to us, the lead person from the real estate was Wayne Johnson. Our contact person, actually the same person that you have, John Castle. There was another girl there, she was from (inaudible) on the environmental side. So we had about a 2 hour meeting with them, and explained to them what we want to do, and what they really need us to be done. Yesterday we received a letter from them explaining that yes, we had this meeting, and we want you to address these concerns officially, I mean the Board, or the MYCA Administration. This, if you want I can give you the copy of that. On the top, actually, they are asking us, please address to us the vehicle traffic. How you will address it, and how you will do it. The second is that what will be the attendance, and how many people will be attending, in phases, at one time. The third is what will be the pattern of use, how you will use it. The third is, they would like us to give to them the site plan, and naturally, what would be the architecture. To address their questions, we are already in the process of hiring a very well-experienced architect who lives here and who is stationed here in Iowa City. We are working with them and we are addressing all of these questions, one by one, not only to resolve your concerns, but to resolve any concerns from anywhere, from any (inaudible). Whether it is from neighbors, whether it is from the County, or whether it is from Corps of Engineers. The reason is that we are really responsible people ourselves, so we know what should be important. We are not here to explain that how many numbers we will inviting and how many numbers we can accommodate. The reason is, we are a people of quality, and we want to present, not only any County but to any people that we are a people who want to address the quality of the product. Quality of the product means, in terms of conference, in terms of inviting people, or in terms of accommodating this camp. We would like to make this camp a role model, not just a complaint box, you know. That is not our objective. When we see the word MYCA, when you reverse it, it is just YMCA. The concept is the same. YMCA means, Y is common in both. It means youth. Our objective is youth. Whether, they are of any religion. We donít count youth in terms of religion. We count them as it is the need of the nation. The recent example is that horrendous situation which happened in Colorado. The reason is the youth are the prime concern of the universe, not only here, and we are trying to address that. Thank you very much for inviting us.
Jordahl: Thank you for your remarks. Rick, yes.
Dvorak: To confirm what this gentleman said, I was contactedÖ Iím Rick Dvorak, the Director of Planning and Zoning for the County. I did get a call last week from a representative from the real estate office inquiring into this, and what the County would like to see in an environmental impact study or a sensitivity study of the area. I related to her similar concerns, and it appears that you will be working with her in the future and with a few other people. I also had, from the beginning, when I talked with John Castle, from day one, it was my opinion at that time that the County would not have a lot of authority in this matter, through Planning and Zoning and through the Health Department. But then later, we confirmed with J. Patrick White, the County Attorney, that we came to the realization that we feel, unofficially, that we do have some authority in the matter, regarding the location of structures, the types of buildings and so on. We have said that, or we came up with that conclusion because all our other church camps in the County, all of the church facilities in the County, all leased land such as Jolly Rogers which is down by (inaudible), theyíve all in the past obtained building permits from us, and it had to meet the same criteria of any structure that would be placed in the County. For information purposes, at least at this time, since youíre in the planning stages, I would like to work with a contact person from your organization so we can make sure we meet on both levels. I guess at this time, anyway, I just want to introduce myself and open up that liaison so we can keep some communications open. So, by chance you donít do something wrong in advance. We are in the process of looking at adopting building codes (inaudible).
Joe Aossey: We see you as being an authority in this process. We see the State of Iowa as being an authority in the process, and naturally the federal government is the ultimate group that we are dealing with. But in terms of the whole process, the roads that go there, obviously, are your problem, the water facility, one way or another, is part of your problem, so we see the necessity of working with you, and working with you, to make sure that we comply right down the line. In terms, Jon, in terms of addressing the right of the corps to lease us the land, I suppose youíd have to talk to them about that. We are citizens and we are, as Manzoor pointed out, we are offering a positive situation.
Jordahl: As I said, thatís not really our purview, thatís their job and theyíre going to do it their way. The letter details what are our legitimate concerns, and Rick now adds a dimension to that by indicating, this is new information to me, that the County Attorney is suggesting that we do have at least with regard to a certain amount of platting controlÖ
Dvorak: Not really, more of structural type things and theyíre not splitting the land off from the corps, theyíre not buying it, theyíre not trading it, so therefore it would be more of the zoning issues and the types of structures, location, concurring with the Health Department and DNR people and wastewater and water systems.
Joe Aossey: You know, we have to deal with the reality that if we have some sort of catastrophe out there, if thereís a fire or thereís an accident there or something, weíre dependent on the County, weíre dependent on the cities and weíre obliged to work with you.
Jordahl: Yes. Well, itís the community.
Dvorak:In light of that, Iím also in charge of the 911 in the community, and we would facilitate working with you too on locations and structures and where they would be so in case of emergency we can get the equipment there as soon as possible, to the right locations.
Ali: So youíll give me a contact number?
Jordahl: Janet, do you have anything to add to this?
County Attorney Janet Lyness: No I donít. Actually, one of our interns who was here earlier who has been assigned to work on this project from our office.
Jordahl: Yes. Unfortunately our agenda got kind of turned on itís head, so we were trying to straighten ourselves out here, but convey my apologies to the intern.
Joe Aossey: Manzoorís office is available to you any time you want. And so we are pleased to be at you service.
Jordahl: Yes letís trade some phone numbers or something, fax us and all that so we can keep communications one of our main goals here. Yes sir.
Bill ?: I just want to say that when I read about this in the paper I though it was an extremely exciting concept. As many of you know I went from a job in the Carter White House to the middle east; lived in Saudi for 9 years and I just thought this was an extremely exciting concept. I called Bill up and said hey you are getting some kind of neat press. This is what his family had been harassing him about, getting negative press so he welcomed that. And Iíve known most of the prominent members of the Islamic community of Cedar Rapids for probably 20 years. You know we better face back and forth like family. They know that I like Arabic food and the grandmothers cook it for me. If I ever get married Iíll never tell them because theyíll stop giving me food, you know. I think this is just really exciting. There are some chances for some super tie ins because after all in the world the Muslim population is equal to the Christian population now, you know. So we need to learn about that, Islam as Christians. This is such an excellent opportunity and right in our back yard. Are you still on the Board of Precepts?
Bill Aossey: Uh huh.
Bill ?: When we would argue in Saudi Arabia I would tell Bill no way in hell you can be on the Board of Precepts too. He has been, this is about 20 years. So you know there has been a long standing effort of trying to get along with people. I know from having lived in the middle east and lived in Zaire that living and functioning as a minority is sometimes just not as easy as you want it to be. I think that this is just a very exciting concept. Of course there is the not in my backyard thing, you know everybodyísÖ
Jordahl: Yes we have seen that in here before Bill, believe me.
Bill ?: The up part will be so exciting. If you read the list of doctors at the University hospitals and look at the cross section that we have. Former president of the American Heart Association, you know originally from Egypt. A camp like this would excite him immensely. Iím glad to see it happen and I hope we will jump on it fast.
Jordahl: I painted his house.
Thompson: Iowa has a long tradition of religious freedom and I think that we can all be proud of that. I really liked the idea that somebody mentioned earlier having somebody from the homeowners association be involved with your board. Part of the resistance to this is the natural apprehension about what might happen when you donít know.
Joe Aossey: Not knowing you know.
Thompson: They could participate in the planning. I think that would mean a lot to them.
Bill ?: I used to (inaudible) when I said discussion groups and we would get on a subject of religion which you were told to not talk about. But I would point out the fact that in Cedar Rapids the mosque was allowed to join the Council of Churches along with a Synagogue. And I would say can you top that. And then I would ask them for money for the mosque.
Jordahl: Yes Charlie.
Duffy: I would say that it kind of surprises me that I donít think that we have a lot of authority anyway. This is Federal land, maybe a few things. It really surprises me because there is a lot of building going on in the Federal land but it is just kind of a thing. It is the best thing to do to try and work together. Iíve seen a couple of you folks before. Do you own any other property out in the reservoir area.
Joe Aossey: My brother Albert owns about 25 acres up there by Sandy beach. You have probably seen him.
Duffy: Yes, Iím senior member of the Board here and if I remember now that was down a minimum maintenance road. It was about 25 acres. Actually we closed the road because there is a lot of junk being thrown off into the ditch. I just wondered what did he ever do with the 25, I thought they were going to build a church of something.
Joe Aossey: Well he has had ideas or thoughts or desires about doing something out there but as of right now nothing has ever happened over there. It is still sitting there.
Duffy: We are talking about southeast of Shueyville. It is just a green area. People wonít object to that one.
Joe Aossey: It has a lot of ravines and it is only 25 acres so it is notÖ
Duffy: I know that but at the time I thought maybe there might be a church built there or something.
Joe Aossey: He had hoped that might be considered for a camp area.
Duffy: Maybe that was it.
Joe Aossey: He had thought about that and proposed that and then Mark came along and said 25 acres isnít enough to really do anything with becauseÖ
Chaffee: Especially if it is ravines.
Joe Aossey: You know you need room for those kids to use their imagination a little bit. He pointed out that after 2 days, 25 acres would become miniscule size orÖ
Chaffee: They get bored with the site.
Joe Aossey: You know there is really no waterfront, I mean there is a temporary coming and going waterfront. We really wanted a place where there was permanent water.
Duffy: So I just wondered what happened to it. It was a whale of a place to hunt mushrooms, Iíll tell you that.
Jordahl: Where was that again Charlie?
Duffy: I thought it was like I say I remember that and I just wondered.
Joe Aossey: It is right off of Roberts Fairy road, that is Sandy beach and Roberts Fairy road.
Jordahl: Go ahead Bill.
Bill Aossey: Mr. Manzoor Ali wasnít totally introduced. He is an engineer and I think as he pointed out in his introduction. Being an engineer he looks for quality and precision. I think that you will find he is a very good man to work with, how many years Manzoor Ali?
Bill Aossey: 12 years at Square D Electrical so he has a very professional and precise background and I think he will be very cooperative.
Jordahl: So there is a lot of comedy and good feeling generated here. Let me risk denting that a little bit by raising a couple of really brass tax issues related to the road and the parking. One of them is that our new Land Use Plan adopted in December recommends that development pays the costs of any infrastructure improvements that it may require. We have not got a mechanism exactly figured out for how to do that but the Land Use Plan says to do it. It has not been determined by the County Engineer because we do not have precise or useable figures on the traffic that this facility is going to generate. With houses you have a good rule of thumb, there is kind of a national standard of 10 trips a day. Well we use 8 being a little conservative. Then try and factor that into to our general plan for improvement of secondary roads in the county. We will get these traffic counts from the DOT and see what traffic count Scales Bend road has and then we will have some additional specification of your development and then we will have some sort of recommendation for the County Engineers for what we are going to have to do to respond to that situation. That could lead by way of communication to some request on the countyís part that you participate in the costs of making any improvements that may be necessary to the road. In particular residents in the neighboring subdivision have expressed concerned about the curves that go past the entrance, that there is not a lot of sight distance going past the entrance to this camp. For the sake of everybodyís safety and the county and not least the campers that will be going to your camp. We might need to straighten that out. That would have some costs. So this is a thing that is out there. Another thing I would suggest about parking is I donít know what zoning we use for parking Rick, but some sort I would suggest that if you could find a nice flat piece of really bad farm land without a couple of corners leading up to it that you might want to think about buying a couple of acres of parking somewhere. Rather than trying to negotiate with North Liberty, although Iím not saying that they are intractable people but it might make more sense to have control of your own land. Anybody else have things to say? Carol?
Thompson: Well the person that we talked to in North Liberty told us that they did not think that there was any site in their little town that has 250 parking spaces, that would ever be unused on any given occasion. That would kind of put you into Iowa City which is a pretty long way to shuttle somebody.
Bill Aossey: Jonathon.
Bill Aossey: This figure of 250 did not come from us and the other thing is that keep in mind that ifÖ
Chaffee: No it is in the proposal Bill.
Thompson: It was in the proposal.
Bill Aossey: Going back to this point Mark, if we had 250 people you are not going to have all 250 people driving a car. There may be 3 or 4 in a car or 4 or 5 in a car or a car pool. So I donít think we are really looking at the necessity of accommodating 250 vehicles at one time. Because even if there were some type of a program where there were 200 or 250 attendees, it is all probability that they would come car pooled or at least you would not have one attendee per car.
Joe Aossey: Wait a minute, I think your proposal about buying a couple of acres for parking is a good idea. It is feasible so it is one that we will consider. It is a very practical idea.
Jordahl: What do you have right there.
Dvorak: My other option is going beyond that residential subdivision there is a considerable amount of flatland down there by the camp ground. There are some on both sides of the road.
Joe Aossey: Iím sorry with camp ground.
Dvorak: Down by the Jolly Roger.
Joe Aossey: That means that we would still be driving up and down the roadway.
Dvorak: Well if you were to shuttle people at least they would not be having to worry about that corner until that corner. Because that was a major concern I heard was accessing off that road. If it got to the point where you need some additional. You should look at the Corps for additional parking because they do have a lot of land in that area.
Joe Aossey: Anyway we will specifically take this thing into total consideration and handle it with agreement with everybody.
Jordahl: Bill is being very polite and raising his hand.
Bill Aossey: On a lighter note maybe if we put some nail polish on the (inaudible) or just put up a toll bridge like (inaudible). Every time somebody wants to go by they drop in fifty cents and Ö
Jordahl: Have we thought about that? I talked to Mike about the idea of putting a gate on every county road, that is a great idea.
Duffy: Yes that is nice, it is triple taxation when you pay your property tax, your gasoline tax, and then the impact. That is what you are getting, yes I thought Iíd do same thing too.
Jordahl: For your house, that would be good. On Highway 1 do you think the DOT would let you do that.
Duffy: I might get some of these islands you know somebody from Iowa City knows what they are doing you know what they did.
Jordahl: Oh, yes plant some trees out there in the middle of the road.
Chaffee: Jonathon one of the questions that I had was, and we also met with not just not the neighborhood association there on Cumberland Ridge but the one down below is it Coralville Lake Terrace or something down byÖ
Jordahl: Rick may be able to tell you.
Chaffee: And they had said that the county had plans like 6 years ago to straighten and widen Scales Bend Road and then did not do it.
Jordahl: I donít know.
Lehman: I donít think it has ever gone to road plan.
Jordahl: We have a 5 Year Road Construction Plan and things tend to kind of percolate up on that list and get done if they are actually planned because it is a lot expenses. Your engineer comrade will tell you that you have to get people out there and measure and calculate. So if we get that far generally something happens.
Chaffee: Well they were all in agreement that there had been like Federal money sought for the widening and straightening and stuff andÖ
Jordahl: Charlie do you have a recollection of that?
Duffy: I donít have a recollection of it. Iíll bet that was maybe through what we call the ISTEA program. That is off the state and Federal gas tax. A certain percentage but I really donít remember that unless it was pushed back and that might be 100%. I donít know if there is a farm market fund that is a little sketchy now or I would almost say it would probably be a matching funds.
Chaffee: Well they were kind of excited to hear about our presence on the road because the thought it might actually get done. We got such a different reception from those 2 different neighborhood associations. We met with Cumberland Ridge at the gate to take them on a tour to show them what we wanted to do, we never got passed the gate after an hour and a half and then I understand Charlie got calls all night after the meeting. Then we go down and meet with Coralville Lake Terrace and that was the following Monday and Iím the only one who is going to go to the meeting and I am like I really donít want to do this after last week and they were so this is a great idea we really like this. This is wild. We need to work with kids and so I was like, you are not related to these people up at the other place are you up here. One of the things that their excitement was, they thought well this might put pressure on the county to straighten and widen the road. I was like well what does that mean. Well they were going to do that 6 years ago and something happened to it. So I was like well we can certainly work together to make that happen.
Thompson: And it is not in our 5 Year Road Plan.
Thompson: It is not even mentioned in there.
Jordahl: So, yes.
Ali: Just a final note that your suggestions and accommodations we would like if you sent it to us. The reason is that a lot of them are identical as we received from the Core of Engineers. So we will add on it or combine with it because we are in contact with the engineers right now and we are actually having our meeting today with the architect. So we can discuss all together maybe not today but sometime in the future please. Also I suggest and request that you remain in contact with the real estate Corps of Engineers because they have almost identically the same concerns and the same requirements so that we can fulfill both of yours at the same time. Lastly you mentioned Mr. Chairman that you need some kind of a contribution from us to (inaudible) some of your activities.
Jordahl: We may, we do not presently have an ordinance.
Ali: But you might have some ballpark idea later on. Likewise these Corps people told us for our environmental study they need some money later on from us. The reason I am explaining it is that we are a non-profit organization and naturally we have to live on contributions. So we are holding our fundraising dinner on August 7.
Jordahl: Sounds like an invitation coming here.
Ali: You are most welcome to come on it. But the fine print but the contribution is $1,000.
Jordahl: Oh brother do you guys want to chip in so that I can go.
Duffy: I think you 3 ought to go.
Ali: So you are most welcome, all of you. And at the same time we are working with the help of our good friend and I would say the main architect on a brochure. As soon as it is completed we will send you a copy of it.
Ali: In the mean time please remain in contact with us.
Jordahl: Yes we would love to. To facilitate that if I could ask, you mentioned that we might have copies of some of the documents that you were speaking about earlier regarding contract with the Corps. Some of the requirements they had and so forth. If we could get copies of that stuff along with a list of contact numbers, faxes and so forth, email if anything so that we really can in the greatest possible easy.
Ali: Sure we will mail it to you.
Jordahl: That would be great. We have a copy machine here we could make copies.
Ali: If you want you can have this.
Jordahl: Well give it to Carol if you would. And we would love to stay in contact. We wish you well with this we just need to deal with our concerns that is what they pay us for.
Ali: Your concerns are our concerns.
Jordahl: Yes exactly. And your project sounds like a very positive thing. One last question that just touches on our realm is the question of gender has been raised in these discussions. It may be an archaic notion, I donít know of sort of a strong separation of genders in the Islamic tradition and culture and I am wondering if the camp is envisioned to serve both genders or not.
Bill ?: It is. As Joel said there are a lot of misperceptions of the Islamic traditions. The only thing is that Islamic stretches from West Africa to China to Indonesia and Malaysia. From what we understood cultures of the Islamic world you would find that religion is the same, the prayers are the same but as traditional practices are in say West Africa vis a vis, Saudi Arabia vis a vis Malaysia vis a vis or Pakistan. The diversity and geographic differences are immense. As Mark mentioned there are 48 Islamic nationalities in the U.S. So there are plans for both girls and boys. We have to look at it as a camp and we are not saying that this is going to be called a boys camp. It is a multi-cultural camp.
Chaffee: The perception of the gender is similar to gender issues in the United States in religion. The more conservative the denominational understanding so to speak or the church understanding the more separate the genders become. So it is not about that all Methodists all have all things together. The free Methodists do not do things together either. You can go to a Methodist seminary and they will not allow you to dance. So it really just depends on which piece of the Islamic community that you are at the moment as to that gender.
Joe Aossey: The meeting that we had last Saturday. A week ago Saturday. There was a thirteen year old girl from Des Moines wanting to know where her part was so the girls will be right there.
Jordahl: Thanks. I think that covers it for me. Anybody have any residual question that are eating away here?
Chaffee: Mike you have been really silent.
Jordahl: Yes, come on Mike.
Lehman: No I appreciate your cooperation coming in and I think that we have a lot of mutual interests and I donít think we really threw any surprises to either one of us but make sure that we donít have something get away from us here and we or you get criticized that we did not address some issues and I think that we have pretty well ran the gamut here at addressing everyoneís concerns.
Jordahl: We are particularly interested in the site planned. The health department I think are going to want swimming pools, are you going to have restaurants, what kind of health concerns are going to be most directly answered by the site plan I think. So thank you for coming down. We appreciate your efforts at positive contribution to community. Anybody need a break.
Duffy: We all need a break, break, break.
Thompson: Yes we do.
Jordahl: Letís try.
Recessed at 10:55 a. m. ; reconvened at 11:12 a. m.
(Continued in Part 4)