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Peoria mulls trying to woo inactive WWII warship

Published: Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 10:30 a.m. CDT

PEORIA (AP) — Peoria officials are considering whether to try to woo a decommissioned World War II warship from its mooring in Indiana.

Central Illinois community leaders are examining how to get the LST-325 tank landing ship to relocate once its 10-year contract with Evansville, Ind., expires, The (Peoria) Journal Star reported ( ).

The ship, which is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and was used in the Normandy landings at Omaha Beach, doubles as a museum and is among the last of its kind to remain seaworthy.

Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich said Peoria officials are researching how much it would cost to build a permanent dock for the boat, which attracts as many as 10,000 visitors a year at its current location.

"It's a question of costs and it's a question of desire," Urich said after Peoria's City Council gave the go-ahead to pursue the boat. "If the costs come back and it's $4 million to put in a dock, I'm not sure they would do it. If the package is more affordable than that, maybe they'll be interested in making a proposal."

The newspaper reports the permanent dock and facilities for the ship in Evansville, where the boat has been since 2005, cost about $3 million.

This fall, the LST-325 hit waterways to visit Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia. It has previously docked in Peoria in 2007 and 2011, drawing thousands of spectators.

The boat is owned by a not-for-profit group. Wanda Engstrom, who works with the ship in Indiana, said a group from the organization plans to visit Peoria.

The ship was first launched in 1942 and was used to transport tanks. It was part of the D-Day fighting in France 1944.

It was brought back to the U.S. from Greece in 2001 to be restored.

No decision on the potential relocation is imminent. The ship's owners have until October 2014 to give notice to Evansville that the ship will leave the Ohio River city.

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