Orleck organization not seeking move to I-10 beach

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The U.S.S. Orleck organization has told the Lake Charles Downtown Development they will not seek an election to move the ship to the end of North I-10 Beach near the Lake Charles Yacht Club and Calcasieu River Bridge. Time was running out to get the item on the November ballot. Organizers say they are exploring other options and focusing their efforts on moving the ship to a permanent location within a year.

"We feel this is the best decision. We are looking at several options that do not involve the City of Lake Charles to be involved and will allow us to move to a permanent visible location from Interstate 10," said Ron Williams, U.S.S. Orleck Organization. "I'm not ready to say where this property is but the ship will be visible from the bridge and Interstate."

The World War II Navy destroyer is currently docked at the end of Enterprise Boulevard on the Calcasieu River. If they would have put up for vote and it passed the group would have had three years to move it to the North I-10 Beach location.

"We think the people would have voted for it to be moved, but that location at North I-10 Beach needed a lot of repairs and upgrades for us to move the ship. We unfortunately like a lot of non-profit groups are having trouble with fundraising. We could have done it but it we just feel like we need to focus on other options that are available and more feasible."

Under the cooperative endeavor agreement with the City of Lake Charles the group now has one year from November 19th to move the ship to a permanent location or haul it away from Lake Charles.

"We feel confident we can make this happen within a year. We are not leaving Lake Charles. We are open and ready for people to come and tour. Come by and visit us," said Williams.

The ship opened to visitors on April 9th of this year. Since then they've had more than 5,000 paying customers come through.

"The excitement and reception by the public has been overwhelming. We know the public would have passed us had we went up for vote, we just feel this is the best decision for us and the current state of the economy. Fundraising efforts are really difficult right now," said Williams.

The following are fees to tour:
Military: $5
Adults: $7
Seniors: $6
Children: $5
Children 5 & under: Free

Copyright 2011 KPLC. All rights reserved.