A World War II ship is not going to dock on Peoria's riverfront.
Instead, the LST 325 will stay right where it is, in Evansville, Indiana. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke made the announcement Tuesday afternoon at a news conference and on Twitter, calling it a "great day" for the city.
Peoria had considered whether to make an offer on bringing the ship to town for several months, with votes repeatedly delayed amid concerns over the project's cost and differences of opinions as to where the LST 325 would be docked.
Ultimately, the City Council voted to extend a five year offer that pledged $500,000 to the project. The offer stated that the remaining $1 million needed to dock the ship in Peoria would have to be raised by private donations and grants. Furthermore, the contract would essentially be null and void if those donations and grants didn't come through.
The compromise was proposed by Councilman Ryan Spain, who wanted to keep the city's liability as low as possible. The idea was countered passionately by Councilman Chuck Grayeb, who felt that the offer was "half-hearted," and would effectively take Peoria out of the running for the tourist attraction.
Assistant City Manager Chris Setti, who spearheaded the effort, says the rejection may not have had anything to do with the offer.
"I said from the beginning to not underestimate Evansville, and to not underestimate the comfort of staying put," he said.
One of the major issues with the offer was the uncertainty surrounding whether the city would actually get the funding from outside sources, as required in the proposed contract. The city could not even apply for some major grants until the LST 325 board approved the project. While Setti says he was confident that the funding could have been raised, he admits the city's offer may have been too "tentative" for the LST 325 board's liking.
Setti says he'll likely mount another offensive when the LST 325's new contract with Evansville expires in five years.
"Why wouldn't I?" he said. "I obviously thought it was an excellent opportunity for us now. I imagine, in five years, it could be just as good an opportunity is not better for us."