They were built in Evansville, one of them is docked in Evansville, but will it stay in Evansville? It played a pivotal role in World War II but now the LST 325 could be the subject of a bidding war between Evansville and other cities in the Midwest.
City officials in Peoria, Illinois have ramped up their efforts to lure the LST 325 their way. The city in Central Illinois joins the ranks of other cities in the Midwest to do so.
As part of a 10 year contract with the City of Evansville, The LST will stay near Marina Pointe through 2015 and a decision as to the ship's future will come no later than October 2014. Many in Evansville hope the historic ship will stay in the city that built it.
"It is a piece of history that was made here in Evansville during one of the greatest generations," said Jonathan Weaver (D-City Council at Large).
"It's always been a popular commodity," said Laura Libs of the Evansville Convention and Visitor's Bureau. "When we first got it when it was in Alabama, we pursued it heavily too."
Now, the roles are reversed. The ship may have been designed to help land tanks on the beaches of Normandy but now the ship delivers up to 10,000 visitors each year.
"As a city, as a body, us and the mayor's office need to do everything we can to keep it here," Weaver said. "We put some money into the docking areas over there at Marina Pointe and it makes sense to keep it around."
"We don't have anything else like this," Libs said. “We have a lot of history referring to it. But to have the actual object just down the river, that's exceptional."
Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, who is out of town on business, released the following statement.
“We continue to have discussions with the LST leadership that are positive and candid. They are fully aware of our city’s desire to keep the LST 325 in Evansville. The LST leadership has kept our administration informed of their discussions with other cities, and we understand they are doing their due diligence exploring all options. The leadership has asked to resume talks with Evansville following the LST 325 board meeting in Peoria in January.”