The residents of Riverside are looking to move on after finding out Thursday they’d lost in the bid to become the location for Earthpark. Earthpark executive director Dave Oman says Pella beat out Riverside on most issues , as the Pella location is bigger, the site will encompass the largest lake in the state, the development group in Pella has a clearer plan to raise funds, and there is no casino across the street.
Riverside Casino and Golf Resort spokesman Glenn Patton says they’d planned to build a water park, amphitheater and hotel around Earthpark and turn Highway 22 into a major tourist destination. Patton says, “We’re very disappointed. We thought we had a great offer on the table for the Earthpark board of directors.”
Patton says casino officials now have to find a new dream for the 100 acres of land they just bought. “We have to step back and re-evaluate. Earthpark was going to be our anchor,” Patton said. Riverside Mayor Bill Poch says there is a lot of other development in the works. If that growth had already happened, Riverside might have been able to claim Earthpark.
But the mayor of the small town realizes his community was at a distinct size disadvantage. Poch says, “Riverside doesn’t have the staff even Pella does so we were through it a little more methodical, a little slower.” As for the casino, it turned out to be a negative for Earthpark even though it was originally a positive. Patton called the change of heart by the Earthpark board hypocritical.