WESTLAKE, LA (KPLC) - They've been in limbo, but the USS Orleck is hoping to have a permanent berth in 2012. Since cutting ties with the City of Lake Charles back in August the Orleck has been in talks with Westlake's Isle of Capri about a possible lease agreement.
"Part of the reason we decided to not go with the Lake Charles option was because it was going to take too much time, infrastructure and money," explained Ron Williams, director of the USS Orleck Naval Museum. "We've been in talks with management at the Isle of Capri and continue to move forward about trying to move the ship there."
Williams says it's been an uphill battle to get the World War II Destroyer here.
"We are just taking it step by step, not trying to get too far ahead of ourselves. A lot of people didn't think we'd get this far, but we are here and we are open," said Williams.
Since opening back in April the ship has welcomed nearly 15,000 visitors aboard. In addition to tours, they've gotten creative, hosting a haunted Halloween and laser tag. But their main target remains finding a permanent home. Williams believes a deal with the Isle would generate more traffic.
"The advantage of being able to be seen directly from the bridge, directly from the highway by the lake, of course it will draw a lot of folks and encourage them to stop in Lake Charles and in Westlake and come visit us. The sky is the limit if we are near the bridge," said Williams.
With the parking and most of the infrastructure already in place, plus the Isle of Capri losing one of its two licenses to Shreveport, Williams believes it would be a win-win for both parties.
"Anything that brings people to the area is going to help them and help everybody," said Williams.
But time is running out. Under the agreement with Lake Charles the Orleck has until Nov. 19 to find a new home. Despite no timeline on a decision with the Isle Williams remains optimistic.
"We have some things to talk about. There's a lot that goes into it. But we think that 2012 is our year," said Williams.
There is still no word when the Isle of Capri's smaller riverboat will be leaving Lake Charles. And there's no guarantee that would be the location for the Orleck.
Anyone wishing to volunteer or donate to the USS Orleck Naval Museum may call 337-214-SHIP.