PEORIA – The LST 325 warship will not be moving to Peoria. City officials learned the news Tuesday afternoon that its recent bid for the attraction was not accepted.
The choice to stay in Southern Indiana is drawing cheers from that community, but none here in Peoria. Assistant City Manager Chris Setti said, “I'm disappointed. You never go into a project assuming you're not going to be successful."
Setti has been working on the project for months. The LST 325 cost $1.6 million to bring to Peoria. The city council voted to pay $500,000 and pledged to raise the rest.
Setti said it was a good offer, but not enough to lure it away from Evansville. “We were also battling an incumbent, a strong incumbent at that. So we always knew it wasn't a slam dunk on our part. I think we made a strong offer."
He said he isn’t the only one disappointed. Sam Gappmayer, the Peoria Riverfront Museum President and CEO said he hoped a new attraction would be one more reason for visitors to stop in the museum. "While we're disappointed that this effort did not bear fruit, I know they're going to keep looking and we're going to find some great things."
Setti agreed, saying losing out on the LST 325 is only a small step back for the community.
City Council was divided last week when it decided to make a bid on the warship.
Councilman Chuck Grayed was a major supporter. He said you can’t put a price tag on the education the warship would have provided to people.
However, Councilwoman Denise Moore believed the city’s money would be better spent elsewhere. She said, “There are some funds that are restricted just for tourism I understand that, but even with those funds, I think they can be programmed in such a way to bring in tourism but also supply jobs that are very much needed in our city and certainly in the first district."
Grayeb said, "I believe it was a missed, lost opportunity. I realize there was start up costs but I think ultimately we would recoup the costs rather quickly with hotel rooms being filled and people spending money in our city."
The council said it will continue to look for opportunities to draw in more people to the riverfront.
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