EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - The city of Peoria, Illinois, has made its pitch to become the new home for a World War II-era Navy ship now docked in Evansville, offering $500,000 in city funds pledging to work to raise an additional $1 million needed to develop a docking site and welcome plaza.
The Peoria City Council approved the moves Tuesday in an attempt to attract the LST-325, the Evansville Courier & Press reported (https://bit.ly/1lP38Ku ). The board that oversees the LST-325 is looking for a more visible location for the ship because its current dock upriver from downtown Evansville is isolated from other city attractions and doesn’t have any pedestrian traffic to encourage visitors. LST board members want more visitors.
Council members said the vote Tuesday night vote allowed them to meet the LST board’s request for a proposal by July 31, although Councilman Chuck Grayeb, who favors bringing the ship to Peoria, said he worries the proposal approved Tuesday won’t be enough. He said he feared the “half measure is not going to cut it.”
Opponents said the city had more pressing needs, such as repairing streets, creating jobs and reducing crime.
Peoria council members said they would purse funding from county government and area businesses such as Caterpillar, Inc., which is headquartered in the central Illinois city.
“It’s important that the message Evansville receives is that we do want that boat here,” Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said.
Evansville’s 10-year contract to house the troop landing ship expires next year. Evansville officials have promised greater promotion of the ship, which took part in the 1944 D-Day landings in France.
Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke presented LST board members on Saturday with a petition with more than 3,000 signatures to keep the LST in Evansville, which was the largest producer of LSTs in the nation during World War II.
Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, https://www.courierpress.com
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