Lewiston city councilors yesterday voted to pull out of a joint downtown plan with Lewiston’s neighbor, Auburn, ending a months-long effort to write a shared downtown master plan.
A group of volunteers had been meeting for the past two months to write a joint downtown plan, setting planning policies for Lewiston and Auburn that would complement each other, the Sun Journal reported. The cities have been dancing around the idea of sharing resources and departments for several years.
But Lewiston councilors said the 18 months the volunteer group needed to write up the agreement was too long, and that city staff, rather than committees, would be better at finding cost savings. One councilor was skeptical of the efforts to join the cities. “Twin Cities really is the best name for us,” Councilor Robert Reed said. “From the outside, we look like twins. We really do, to people from around Maine. But from the inside, we’re very different. There is just not the public will to combine services, so efforts to do it will never move forward.”
Lewiston and Auburn Maine made great strides in the Milken Institute’s annual ranking of the smaller metro cities, while Portland remained relatively steady in the their list of the 200 largest cities in the country.
In the Santa Monica, Calif.-based think tank’s 2008 Best Performing Cities’ Index , released yesterday, both Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn made significant jumps in the ranking of 124 smaller metro areas. The Bangor metro area moved from 149 last year to 82, and the Lewiston-Auburn metro area moved from 127 last year to 84 this year. The rankings are based on wages and salaries growth, job growth and gross domestic product growth in the technology industry.
In the ranking of the 200 largest cities, Portland dropped one place to 158. The city scored highest in its concentration of the technology industry, with a ranking of 72. Portland also ranked 101 in both wages and salaries growth from 2001-2006 and job growth from March 2007 to March 2008, according to the report.
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The National Civic League last week named Lewiston an All-America City.
The title, given to 10 cities across the U.S., is for cities that demonstrate problem-solving skills and civic pride. Lewiston submitted an application for the honor in April, highlighting the Lots to Gardens community garden project, the city council’s youth advisory council and its efforts to increase low-income residents’ use of the Earned Income Tax Credit program, according to a press release. Lewiston was a finalist for the award last year.
City officials began marketing the title yesterday, hanging a sign on Alfred Plourde Parkway, according to the Lewiston Sun Journal. “It doesn’t mean we don’t have any problems,” City Councilor Norm Rousseau told the paper. “It means we come together to solve the problems we have. This group and these judges, from across the country, recognized that.”
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