A connected island that welcomes visitors and the community to recreation, entertainment and the outdoors.

That's the DRA's proclaimed vision for Chaplain Schmitt Island, which has been central in their focus for development projects as of late. Just some of the possibilities were outlined earlier this week when the DRA revealed their concepts to the Telegraph Herald, as well as the Biz Times.

The DRA — legally known as the Dubuque Racing Association — has had to undergo something of a rebrand with Iowa Greyhound Park shuttering earlier this year. Plans to redevelop that property along with the larger Schmitt Island were all put on the table during a board meeting at Q Casino.

Photo Credit: Q Casino
Photo Credit: Q Casino

President and CEO of Q Casino Alex Dixon relayed the urgency in making sure the island is a destination with assets that incite people to travel there:

We need to make tough choices about what we want and how we’re going to pay for it and in what order. These assets are the first things you see when you come into Iowa. We need to take advantage of that.

Potential developments that would accompany Q Casino, the Mystique Community Ice Center, and other area-businesses on Schmitt Island included putting an amphitheater at the former greyhound track site; lighting the Dubuque-Wisconsin bridge; improvements to McAleece Park & Recreation Complex; adding "Iowa" signage; improving access to the Mississippi River; and updating the façade of the Mystique Ice Center.

Could an amphitheater be coming to Schmitt Island? Photo Credit: Grand Junction
Could an amphitheater be coming to Schmitt Island? Photo Credit: Grand Junction

The DRA's long-term philosophies for for Chaplain Schmitt Island boil down to four bullet points, according to the "Schmitt Island" tab on their website:

  • Connect the Riverfront
  • Put Your Feet In
  • Celebrate the Island's "Islandness"
  • Spent Your Day & Night - Year Round

All are logical points on which to capitalize, particularly the "islandness" of Schmitt Island, as, at least to this new face in the Tri-States, it's pretty cool that we have a local island right here in the area.

Dixon also noted that such upgrades to the island could see local economic gains not too dissimilar from the "destination" event that is the Field of Dreams game. Also this week, Diamond Jo and Q Casino reported a combined $11.42 million in gaming revenue for the month of July.

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On the list, there's a robust mix of offerings from great schools and nightlife to high walkability and public parks. Some areas have enjoyed rapid growth thanks to new businesses moving to the area, while others offer glimpses into area history with well-preserved architecture and museums. Keep reading to see if your hometown made the list.

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