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A Response from Delta Queen Hotel

 
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Old 04-25-2009, 10:12 PM
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
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Default A Response from Delta Queen Hotel

A RESPONSE FROM DELTA QUEEN HOTEL
REGARDING THE OPPOSITION OF "SAVE THE DELTA QUEEN"


From Sydney Slome and Harry Phillips, partners in efforts to open the Delta Queen as a hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

We sincerely believe opening the Delta Queen to the public in Chattanooga is the best opportunity to preserve and share this National Historic Landmark with the public. All steamboat fans wish the Delta Queen could continue to cruise. But in the current reality, Congressional legislation restricts the boat from cruising and its current owner has no plans to operate it as a cruise vessel. Until those factors change, we feel proud to serve as the caretakers of this national treasure.

We have not received any communication from Vicki Webster or any other members of the Save The Delta Queen campaign. We wish we could have had an opportunity to discuss any concerns before they issued a press release protesting the opening of the Delta Queen as a hotel in Chattanooga.

We respect Ms. Webster’s passion and desire to see the boat return to cruising, but her press release is filled with several misunderstandings and inaccurate information, that we felt compelled to clarify these details. Following are several quotes from her press release followed by some clarification.

FROM THE “SAVE THE DELTA QUEEN” RELEASE:
“The US Army Corps of Engineers and the Tennessee Valley Authority have issued a public notice requesting comments on a permit to permanently moor the Delta Queen at Coolidge Park in Chattanooga.”
CLARIFICATION:
The requested permit is not to “permanently moor the Delta Queen” but more accurately to transfer the Delta Queen’s operating permit to a “permanently moored vessel” status. The real difference here is that by agreement with the boat’s owners, the Delta Queen will still be maintained in operating condition and able to return to cruising service at any time. The permit status change simply allows for the completion of ramps, docks, utility connections, etc. and transfers some of the regulatory governance to local entities such as the Chattanooga Health Department, Fire Marshall, etc.

FROM THE “SAVE THE DELTA QUEEN” RELEASE:
"If this permit is granted the Delta Queen will be converted into a floating hotel and will never sail our rivers again."
CLARIFICATION:
The statement above is not accurate. By agreement with the boat’s owners, the Delta Queen will still be maintained in operating condition and able to return to cruising service at any time.

FROM THE “SAVE THE DELTA QUEEN” RELEASE:
"There is a group that wants to buy the boat and put her back in full operation as the only traditional steamboat carrying overnight passengers on our inland waterways."
CLARIFICATION:
The boat’s owners announced the Delta Queen was for sale since on April 29, 2009. In the past year, no sale has been finalized. The boat may certainly be sold at any time. If so, the Delta Queen Hotel entity has provisions in their contract to cover their startup expenses and they would have 90 days to bring their operation to resolution and relinquish the boat to the new owners.

FROM THE “SAVE THE DELTA QUEEN” RELEASE:
"That status was the sole reason she was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989."
CLARIFICATION:
While the Delta Queen’s eight decades of cruising has always made her very special, the National Park Service’s 1989 National Historic Landmark Study includes pages and pages of elements of note about the Delta Queen including her remarkable construction, design, machinery, and her extraordinary career – including service to the U.S. Navy during World War II.

FROM THE “SAVE THE DELTA QUEEN” RELEASE:
"Please write to the Corps of Engineers at the address below and urge them to hold a public hearing on this matter. And explain in your own words why it is vital to you and your community that the Delta Queen be allowed to steam along America’s inland waterways as she has done proudly and safely for more than 80 years."
CLARIFICATION:
The Corp of Engineers has no authority to grant the Delta Queen permission to cruise. This is a matter that must be resolve by the United States Congress. The permit currently under consideration would simply allow the Delta Queen to be docked in Chattanooga, open to the public and preserved. The Delta Queen Hotel operators and many steamboat supporters have expressed gratitude for this opportunity rather than see the boat locked up, forgotten, and fall to ruin.

FROM THE “SAVE THE DELTA QUEEN” RELEASE:
"If the Delta Queen is permanently moored, her steam engines will never run again. Her paddlewheel will never turn. Her whistle will never blow. Her calliope will never play."
CLARIFICATION:
The statement above is not accurate. By agreement with the boat’s owners, the Delta Queen will still be maintained in operating condition and able to return to cruising service at any time. Also, steam will be generated onboard enabling guests and visitors to enjoy the sound of the whistle and calliope daily.

FROM THE “SAVE THE DELTA QUEEN” RELEASE:
"In order to achieve even marginal success with their hotel venture beyond the initial novelty stage, it is virtually certain that the Queen’s operators will need to make structural changes that at best will destroy the boat’s historic integrity and at worst make it impossible for a future owner to put her back in operation."
CLARIFICATION:
The statement above is not accurate. By agreement with the boat’s owners, there will be no structural changes to the Delta Queen. She will maintained in her current condition and able to return to cruising service at any time.

We encourage you to share your feelings in support of preserving and keeping the Delta Queen open to the public by sending your letters by May 4, 2009 to:
US Army Corps of Engineers
Regulatory Branch
Attn: J. Ruben Hernandez
3701 Bell Road
Nashville, TN 37214-2660
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