WWII ship stuck in boondocks wants to land on better site
The LST-325 board is considering a proposal from Peoria, Ill., to move the troop landing ship there after its 10-year contract with Evansville expires next year.
Board member Chris Donahue said the ship’s current dock upriver from downtown Evansville is isolated from other city attractions and doesn’t have any pedestrian traffic to encourage visitors.
“Because of the remoteness out here and the numbers, it would be unacceptable to be here in 10 more years,” he told WFIE-TV.
Donahue said Peoria is offering a better spot on the Illinois River, but it would make it more difficult for the LST to travel on tours to other cities.
Evansville built a $3 million dock on the Ohio River in 2005 to accommodate the ship, which took part in the 1944 D-Day landings in France.
LST board members are scheduled to meet Thursday with Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke.
City officials have been talking the LST board for the last couple years about its concerns, Winnecke spokeswoman Ella Johnson-Watson told The Associated Press.
“They’ve kept us in the loop to let us know,” she said. “They’re doing their due diligence to make sure they are looking at all of their options.”
Donahue has said the LST’s number of visitors has dropped by about one-third from the 12,000 a year who visited in the first year it permanently docked in Evansville.
The LST-325, which was built in Philadelphia, was brought back to the U.S. from Greece in 2001 to be restored. More than 150 other LSTs were built at Evansville’s shipyard during World War II, more than any other single shipyard.
Donahue said he believed Winnecke was seriously addressing the nonprofit board’s concerns.
“We’ve told him what the board needs to see to compete with Peoria,” Donahue said.
The LST board has until October to give notice to Evansville if it intends to move the ship.
“We feel confident that we’ll have something that will entice them to continue staying here in Evansville,” Johnson-Watson said.
Information from: WFIE-TV, http://www.14wfie.com/
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