116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
NORTH LIBERTY – A Muslim youth camp will not be built at Coralville Lake, ending more than a decade of delays and controversy over the proposed project.
Muslim Youth Camps of America a month ago told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the lake, that it no longer will seek a new lease for the 114-acre site.
MYCA Director Jalel Aossey of Cedar Rapids did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Ron Fournier, spokesman for the Corps office in Rock Island, Ill., said Aossey sent an email message to the Corps' real estate office on April 26 that said in part, “We have determined that the programs and goals we sought to achieve cannot be met going forward under the current constraints to the project.”
Fournier said Aossey did not elaborate.
MYCA's five-year lease for the land expired in February and it had been working with the Corps on getting an extension.
In March, Aossey said the project was alive but would be scaled back. The 2008 flood, during which Coralville Lake topped its emergency spillway, slowed work on the site and led MYCA to rethink its plans, he said.
When first proposed in 1999, MYCA's plan for a summer camp for Muslim youth at Coralville Lake was met with environmental, safety and road concerns from neighbors and county officials. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, religion and race also became an issue for a few people, and the controversy surrounding the project attracted national media attention.
The project was eventually reduced by half because of the environmental and safety concerns. The most recent proposal called for lodging for 60 campers and a lodge, beach, trails, cabins, tent pads and a bathroom facility.
Work done on the area has included clearing vegetation along the roadway, grading the road and ditches, removing previous structures and adding a nice camp pad, Fournier said. The non-profit organization has offered to contribute the improvements at no cost to the federal government, he said.
The Corps' real estate office is determining what to do with the land, including whether to lease it to other interested parties.
Fournier said the Corps did not have any comment on the history of the Muslim youth camp proposal.
“What we try to do is we try to get our federal property to the best use for the public interest,” he said. “And that's the purpose of Coralville Lake, Saylorville Lake and (Lake) Red Rock.”