MONTEZUMA, Iowa — The Poweshiek County Board of Supervisors got a report on the proposed Sapphire Lake. The project has been proposed as a way to increase the local tax base, amid a 30 year population decline. County wide, the population has dropped 2.5%.

“Trying to build roughly a 400 acre lake, 150 acres of public space that would be set aside for public use,” said Terry Lutz, of McClure Engineering. “It’s a public lake and there’s about 850 acres of developing property that would go around the lake.”

On Monday morning a presentation was made to the Board of Supervisors. The same presentation was also given to the Grinnell City Council.

“We’re trying to put together a $32 million funding package to actually build a dam and build a lake in,” said Lutz. “To also buy the real estate underneath the water it takes about $32 million and then working closely with the state.”

“This is a great opportunity for the area and people just need to be educated as to what the project is all about,” said Fran Conn, of Grinnell.

“Thirty-two million to get it started, and I think we’re getting insufficient public access,” said John Ashby, of Grinnell.

An independent economic analysis was completed earlier this year, showing an over $500 million impact on new home construction, and a $38 million increase in property tax revenue. To get the project jump-started, $22 million is needed for the project. Poweshiek County and the City of Grinnell have been working on this. The state of Iowa stands ready with $10 million to launch the project if it can be done fairly soon.