Dubuque island business seeks to expand - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque island business seeks to expand


DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- One business man wants a transformation similar to that at the Port of Dubuque.

His vision, however, might have a few unique challenges.

Mystique casino sits on Schmitt Island.

"When you come from Wisconsin, this is the gateway to Dubuque," Mystique president and CEO Jesus Aviles said.

Aviles said he wants Schmitt Island to become so developed, that "when people drive down 151, they go, 'wow.'"

Right now, Aviles said, there's not much unity to what's already on the island.

"Right now there's a lot of elements going on, but I think we don't have a comprehensive plan to package and market all those elements," Aviles said.

Such elements include the campground, war memorial, and athletic fields.

"Mystique Casino is located there, and the new ice arena is located there, and so it sure seems like there is the potential for other opportunities," Dubuque city manager Michael Van Milligan said.

He also said development there could be met with problems.

"We do have some public access issues related to open space in Schmitt Island that we didn't have in Port of Dubuque," Van Milligan said.

"The soil, being a landfill here before, have some challenges here for construction," Aviles said. "As we construct the Mystique Community Ice Arena, we have to do pilings into the ground."

Despite that, Aviles said he is hopeful as he brainstorms ideas.

"It's a beautiful island," Aviles said. "All it needs is a little master plan to bring it all together, to advertise to the rest of the world, 'look at what we have,' and we do have a valuable asset."

It's an asset that may one day bring more tourism through the city on the Mississippi.

Planning for the Port of Dubuque started in the late 90s. It was not fully complete until 2010. Van Milligan said any potential plans to develop Schmitt Island would likely be a long- term project.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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