A “super park” project for southern Iowa appears closer to reality. Last week, the Iowa Senate approved borrowing 28 million dollars to upgrade Honey Creek State Park, which sits along Lake Rathbun. Last (Wednesday) night the House voted for the borrowing, too. Representative Kurt Swaim, a Democrat from Bloomfield, says enhancing the park with a lodge, a golf course, and more camping facilities will make southern Iowa a tourist destination. “This is a crucial element if we’re going to join the rest of the state in terms of moving forward economically,” Swaim says. Representative Richard Anderson, a Republican from Clarinda, says Lake Rathbun could be just as popular as similar federal reservoirs in neighboring states. Anderson says Army Corps of Engineers’ lakes in Missouri are engines of economic activity. In Nebraska, you have to book a year in advance to get into the lodge at Lake Mahoney State Park. Representative Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, says the Honey Creek Destination State Park will make Iowa a more attractive place for businesses. “It doesn’t matter how much government money or tax breaks we want to dole out to a business to locate or expand in this state if we don’t have the amenities in the community,” Jochum says. Representative Bill Dix, a Republican from Shell Rock, argued — unsuccessfully — against the borrowing plan. Dix says if the project doesn’t make as much money from camping fees, greens fees and lodging fees, then the state will have to repay the bonds and the state’s financial rating will be downgraded. Dix lost that augment. Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti, a Republican from Ankeny, often fishes on Lake Rathbun, gaining access from a boat ramp in Honey Creek State Park. He has no concerns about the project generating enough money to pay off the 28-million dollars in state bonds. “Because the Destination Park is going to include a hotel/lodge, cabins, a golf course and so you (pay) it off the revenue of that,” Lamberti says. Local governments and individuals will have to raise four million dollars before the state will borrow the 28 million. Project backers believe they can get about eight million from the federal government for the project.
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