By: Alex Acquisto
The business venture would assist the development of the former William Arthur location
KENNEBUNK — The board of selectmen, on Tuesday, March 11, voted to move forward with the prospect of becoming a sister city with the Passamaquoddy Tribe of Indian Township located in Perry.
The reason for the partnership, said Town Manager Barry Tibbetts, is a joint business venture.
The town is currently working to develop a portion of the old William Arthur property on Alewive, and the Passamaquoddy Tribe will aid the process as an outside business developer.
“We have been working with a developer for the old William Arthur property to put in an eco-park … one of the business developers for the businesses coming in is from the Passamaquoddy Tribe … there are some nice synergies that could be developed between us and the tribe,” Tibbetts said. “To my knowledge no other city or town in the country has really done a sister city program with a tribe.”
“We thought it might be a unique arrangement and a way for us to share some synergies and help each other as we want to develop our park and they want to improve certain areas within their tribal nation,” Tibbetts said.
“I don’t now how to say this,” said Selectman John Kotsonis. “What’s in it for us? Is there something tangible that the town can benefit from? Other than a touchy-feely feel good thing?”
Said Tibbetts: “I think it’s a chance for us to help the tribe in certain areas as they’re developing different working areas or educational incentives on their land. But what we’re doing down at the Eagle Park … they’re going to be sponsoring some different businesses and having that relationship of us working together, I think, will help us in that long term.”
There will likely be no tangible assets to glean from the relationship, Tibbetts said, “but the aspect of helping them and helping them develop that business relationship and understanding how they function and work … we win from that respect. We benefit from that business relationship with them and being able to have them as a business partner.”
The only likely cost of the adoption of the sister city would be optional travel between locations, Tibbetts said.
“Do you see this as benefitting the town through some kind of cultural exchange?” asked Selectman Bill Ward.
“It’s both a cultural and a business exchange, really,” said Chairman Al Searles. “There will also be benefit to the children to get to know one another’s culture, as well as other local businesses.
“Sometimes they end up just being touchy-feely-good things, and sometimes they end up actually being something.”
A second reading will take place at the next selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday, March 25.
If the board continues to move forward with the relationship, a letter will be sent to Chief Joseph Socobasin to begin the formal process.