Camp for Conversion: MYCA plans new 'outreach' camp so all faiths will become Muslim Youth of America
December 22, 2005
Muslim camp gets closer to reality
By Mike McWilliams
Thursday, December 22, 2005
A Johnson County planning and zoning official said plans for a Muslim youth camp near North Liberty seem to comply with county construction, health and safety requirements.
"It appears that they will conform, as they said they would, with the requirements as outlined," County Planning and Zoning administrator Rick Dvorak said. "At least, I'm not going to have an issue with it."
In a letter dated Dec. 14, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asked Dvorak to verify that the Muslim Youth Camps of America plan met local code requirements and that there is nothing "that would prevent MYCA from obtaining any approvals or permits needed from Johnson County to develop and operate" the camp.
Dvorak's response is due to the Corps by Dec. 29.
Dvorak planned to present his findings to the Board of Supervisors during their informal meeting this morning. However, as of Wednesday afternoon, he said he had only heard back from the county health department.
"Unfortunately, I haven't gotten anything back from secondary roads or from the city of North Liberty or the North Liberty Fire Department, so it may be kind of incomplete," Dvorak said. "I received the letter last Thursday and was given until next Thursday to have a response in, so I wasn't given a whole lot of time."
MYCA, a Cedar Rapids-based organization, is pursuing a lease to build a youth camp for children of all faiths to take part in educational and outreach programs. The camp would occupy the former Girl Scout Camp Daybreak on 106 acres of land two miles northeast of North Liberty adjacent to Coralville Lake.
From the planning and zoning office's building division standpoint, Dvorak said he wants to make sure MYCA follows international building codes and adheres to flood plain requirements. Dvorak said the county health department wants to make sure the camp follows water and wastewater standards as well as making sure the camp has the necessary food permits.
The original camp proposal, submitted in 1999, included a 17,500-square-foot lodge, 12 tent camping platforms and 10 cabins, a 75-foot-tall tower and plans to construct a beach. However, the Corps later required MYCA to provide a scaled-down proposal after an environmental assessment.
The latest proposal includes a 2,400-square-foot central lodge, five cabins, one bathroom facility, five tent pads and a trail system at a total cost of $934,000. Construction is planned to take place over a five-year period.
Dvorak said MYCA had planned to start prepping the property for construction last summer, but lease issues with the Corps delayed that. Dvorak said the county's blessing likely is one of the last hurdles MYCA has to clear before construction could begin.
"Then they'll go ahead and sign off on the lease, and they'll probably get started with preliminary (construction) next year," Dvorak said.Reach Mike McWilliams at 339-7360 or firstname.lastname@example.org.