New Golf Project on the Mississippi River?

The neighboring Iowa cities of Marquette and McGregor are continuing to seek $15 million in Vision Iowa funds for a $42-million project located between them. (The Vision Iowa fund contains about $180 million, with over $1 billion in proposals now vying for it.)

The project includes completing the Trail of Two Cities along the Mississippi River. Plans also include an 18-hole golf course, outdoor winter recreation area, activity center-resort, and hotel. The cities' mayors, Marquette's Eleanor Soulli and McGregor's Harold Brooks, are spearheading the efforts, hoping to spur tourism while retaining the area’s natural beauty.

The proposal has the support of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Parks Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Highway Administration, Iowa departments of transportation, natural resources and economic development, and the local county conservation boards.

Authorized in 2000 by the state legislature, Vision Iowa is intended to help build attractions capable of keeping Iowans in state while luring residents from other states. Of the Marquette-McGregor proposal, Steve Kolback, who’s coordinating development of the Vision Iowa proposal, told the Cedar Rapids Gazette, “The concept is to aid and enhance enjoyment of all the attractions already (in Marquette and McGregor) – the Mississippi River, Effigy Mounds National Monument, Pikes Peak State Park, Yellow River State Forest, the Isle of Capri gambling boat, to name a few.

“People are coming here, but we’re not ready for them,” said Kolback, who’s also the Isle of Capri’s director of community development and public relations. With that concern in mind, any project would need to include overnight accommodations. In general, the townspeople are in favor of enhancing their civic attractions, while others do not want to see an over-commercialized tourist mecca.