Private group proposes ambitious plan to restore Utah Lake, build city on man-made island

UTAH COUNTY - A private group is pushing for an island city in the middle of Utah Lake, with the end goal of restoring the state's largest body of fresh water.

One of the directors of The Arches Utah Lake Restoration Project is from Utah, and helped develop island city in Dubai.

They've spent nearly ten years on a proposal, and this week, took it to the state for approval to move forward.

While some people support the idea and proposals, others aren't so sure.

“I really like it down here. Even though it's dirty and gross I like it,” said Sienna Smith of Orem.

The shoreline at Utah Lake is where Smith and her mother go to escape, but it's hard for them to imagine it turning into an island city.

“It was kind of shocking because I never thought that kind of option existed,” said Sienna's mother, Jennifer Smith of Orem.

Still, it's a vision Arches Utah Lake Restoration project is looking to turn into a reality.

“The entire development is focused on all of the conservation, and restoring the lake to what we would call a pioneer state really,” said Todd Parker, Chief Information Officer, and Project Manager The Arches Utah Lake Restoration Project.

Back when the lake wasn't so murky and polluted, people remember it as a beautiful place, that provided solace.

“You could look down to the bottom you could see the millions of fish; June Suckers, the Bonneville Cutthroat trout and we've lost all of that,” Parker said.

The state has funded several programs in attempt to clean up the lake, and get rid of the algae, the invasive grasses and certain types of carp. Still, the effort has only made a dent.

“The price tag for the conservation efforts alone is 6.4 billion dollars and that's why the public can't bear the cost of this,” Parker said.

Their plan is to make an island city shaped like the iconic delicate arch, with homes and businesses. The group argues this plan isn't a land grab, but an attempt to restore the area for generations to come.

“I kinda see both sides of it. I don't think I would complain too much if they went that route but there's part of me that likes it how it is,” said Kenneth Schade of Vineyard.

“Personally I would rather not look out and see a bunch of buildings but I guess I would like to know more about their plan long term,” Jennifer Smith said.

The state said it will take them weeks to go over the plan. The group hopes to start the environmental impact study in 3 to 6 months. The Utah Lake Commission’s Executive Director told Fox 13 he is hopeful and excited to review the proposal. The Utah Rivers Council says they're still waiting to go over the plan, but at first glance, it seemed like some of the ideas are wishful.