Orleck's dream of home on Lakefront sinking

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Will voters ever get to decide if the U.S.S. Orleck will make its home on the Lake Charles Lakefront? That's the question city officials had for the Orleck Foundation Wednesday night.

The City Council has deferred putting it on the ballot twice before and with a missed opportunity for the October election, the deadline to get it on the November ballot is fast approaching. Their absolute latest deadline is August 9th.

"To have it on the Lakefront there is going to be a lot of accountability. I think everybody supports the veterans but they also want to have a first class experience on the Lakefront too," said Councilman Marshall Simien, Jr.

The group moved the World War II Navy Destroyer from Orange Texas to Lake Charles last year. It currently sits at a temporary berth on the Calcasieu River.

Despite opposition from the Lake Charles Yacht Club, the Orleck Foundation and the City of Lake Charles have entered a cooperative endeavor to call an election for voters to decide if they want the ship moved to North I-10 Beach at the foot of the bridge. In order for that to happen the Orleck Foundation must meet certain requirements: including a recommendation by the Lake Charles Downtown Development Authority; come up with a master plan outlining their business proposal, estimated costs and terms of a lease.

"It is taking us a little longer than we expected. We are just a bunch of volunteers, but we're still committed to the Lakefront," said Ron Williams, Orleck Foundation.

However, the Orleck Foundation has not met any of the requirements. As City Attorney Billy Loftin explained, the Orleck Foundation could find themselves without an agreement if they don't get their act together.

"We will work with them. We just can't do it for them. It's not that we won't participate with them. It's just that it is their project. Not ours. We just want to make sure that everyone knows they are about to miss their deadline," said Loftin.

"Bottom line. I don't think we have information to fully fulfill what we need for this resolution to call for an election. Bottom line. And let the record show that we have tried," said John Ieyoub, Lake Charles City Council President.

With not enough information the City Council deferred calling for an election a third time. They'll take it up again in two weeks at the July 20th regular meeting. In the meantime they are sending a message they hope is crystal clear to the Orleck Foundation.

"If we don't get the information to you it means we are going in a different route. But we do plan to get the information to you," said Williams.

"But I guess what I am asking you is if you guys don't get information specific for us to call an election, do you agree that you have one year to remove the ship from the temporary berth. Do you understand that," asked Simien.

"That's what the agreement says," said Williams. "That's our understanding. That's what I read in the agreement."

Under the current agreement, if the Orleck doesn't get it together and make the deadline to call an election for November - they have one year to remove the ship. The Orleck Foundation also understands that November election is likely going to be their cheapest deal considering it will be a runoff election and they can split the costs with others on the ballot.

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