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October 17, 2012

Tourism board not thrilled with initial LST study

Report lacks specifics about ship’s possible move to Jeffersonville

JEFFERSONVILLE — The results of a draft feasibility study to bring a former World War II landing craft to Jeffersonville was not well received when it was presented to the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau on Wednesday.

“I’m not sure what they were charged with making a report on, but what I read was basically useless,” said Tourism Board Member Bill Keeney. “It told me nothing. There was not a single specific recommendation in the whole ... report.”

Tourism Bureau Executive Director Jim Keith said he received a draft copy of the consultant’s report requested to determine if the tourism bureau and the city of Jeffersonville should support and pursue bringing the LST from Evansville to a spot along the riverfront.

Jeffersonville’s committee has not met yet to approve the $25,000 study.

According to the draft report, the 328-foot-long, 50-foot-wide boat is seeking a 10-year contract, with an option to renegotiate every five years, lighting near the boat, a gift shop, a boat ramp, restroom facilities near the dock, to be allowed to go into dry-dock for eight weeks and be out-of-port for eight weeks.

If the LST were to move to Jeffersonville from Evansville, its annual attendance figures are expected to jump from 7,700 to 40,000, according to the draft report. The significantly larger number of admissions was based on the larger population of the Louisville Metro Area when compared to Evansville and that the LST would be provided with a more visible location along Jeffersonville’s riverfront.

However, no estimated monetary impact was offered to the region if the LST were to be docked in Jeffersonville. Monetary figures included in the draft report were profits posted in 2011 that totaled $66,000 on $610,700 in income. Nearly 75 percent of the income earned was on a trip out of Evansville’s port that earned $451,500.

Keith explained tours of various ports are the main revenue generator for the LST.

“They earn their visitation and their money during the summer when they take the ship for eight weeks away from the home port,” he said.

On a voyage out of Evansville in July, the LST ran aground in Lake Barkley near Kuttawa, Ky. The World War II transport ship was returning from a voyage to Nashville and Clarksville, Tenn.  

Tourism Board President Jim Becker offered that the board should set aside the report until its next meeting so all members have a chance to review the document and the city of Jeffersonville will have a chance to meet to approve the draft report during that timeframe.

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5-year-old Nicholas Garrison is handed a lemon drop, while 6-year-old Thomas and 4-year-old Walker Sturgeon, try theirs at Schimpff's Confectionery Friday afternoon in Jeffersonville.

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