Casino opponents answer water park questions - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Casino opponents answer water park questions

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

Linn County residents head to the polls Tuesday to decide whether or not they want to allow a casino in the county. Sunday evening opponents held a telephone town hall to answer questions on a new development in the campaign.

Sunday a new web site was launched encouraging voters to vote no to a casino because they'll get a water park instead. That follows a surprise announcement by Riverside Casino & Resort CEO Dan Kehl Friday afternoon. He wants to build a water park on the west side of the Cedar River near downtown Cedar Rapids. That's the same area casino investors want to buy to build a casino.

The Vote Yes Linn County group has said there's plenty of room for both. Kehl, however, says his business will be facing insolvency if a Cedar Rapids casino gets built.  He says he wouldn't be able to afford a water park.

During a town hall phone call, Kehl joined Cedar Rapids residents Sarah and Todd Henderson in answering questions from voters. Sarah is a former city councilwoman. Todd is the spokesperson for Just Say No Casino.

Kehl says his water park would be a $30 million investment including a water park, bowling alley and other amenities. He said it would be similar to parks in Wisconsin, but without the hotel. He believes the city's convention center will be a nice complement to the park.

Some voters on the conference call expressed concern that a water park would be built. Some feared the city will not sell the land. Other worried Kehl would not stand by his proposal.

"You have my word that this project will be built," said Kehl.

Others have asked Kehl to include an indoor sports complex in his facility. Kehl says he'll consider that.

Kehl says the water park is a plan, not just a proposal. He says if voters say no to a casino, he'll build the water park. He also said that if voters approve a casino, but the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission turns it down, he'll still build a water park.

"At that point, you know, we would like to move forward with the project," said Kehl. "We'll have to look at the economics at the time but yes, we really want to do this project and we're hoping we have the opportunity to do so."

Casino investors say a casino would be an investment of $80-100 million. They say it will bring more than 600 jobs to Linn County.

To learn more about the water park proposal, click here.

To learn more about the casino proposal, click here.

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