LEWISTON — What’s in a name?
For the proposed consolidation of Lewiston and Auburn, it could mean a lot.
The Lewiston-Auburn Joint Charter Commission is asking residents in both cities to submit their ideas for what to call the consolidated city, if the merger is ultimately approved by voters.
“It’s time to make history. Who are we, and how do we want to be known?” a news release on the initiative said Tuesday.
The group will take name submissions on its website for the next six weeks. A final decision is expected at the commission’s June 8 meeting.
“For the next six weeks the commission will reach out for thoughts regarding what our proud community should be called if Lewiston and Auburn become one,” the release states. “While the statutory and final responsibility for selecting the name rests with the commission members, involving the community will surface the broadest range of input and help assure the best decision is made. This is a unique opportunity for everyone to weigh in, including students.”
During the summer, the commission will have to get to work on the process to get the referendum on both local ballots this November. Each City Council must set the date for the vote. The merger must receive voter approval in both cities to move ahead.
In the meantime, campaigns both for and against the merger have been announced, with more meetings and campaign events to come. The pro-merger group OneLA held a news conference last week, while the Coalition Opposed to Lewiston-Auburn Consolidation has already held a few public meetings to form its arguments against the merger.
Those in favor of the merger argue that a consolidated city could save money while boosting economic activity for the region. It would make the largest school district in the state, and solidify the Twin Cities as the second largest metropolitan area in Maine.
Opponents say evidence is lacking for the potential financial savings of a merger, and that a consolidation would come with unintended consequences, such as a revaluation that could hurt taxpayers.
The commission said the name should reflect the Twin Cities’ history and heritage, “express our values, project the partnering of cities, and feel right.”
Name suggestions can be submitted at the charter commission’s website, emailed to commission Chairman Gene Geiger at firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to: Lewiston-Auburn Joint Charter Commission, c/o Gene Geiger, P.O. Box 1609, Lewiston, ME 04241.
Geiger said that as naming ideas are received, the commission will keep the community involved.
“This is a never-to-be-repeated opportunity for the citizens of L-A to leave their permanent mark on the history of the Twin Cities,” he said.
To submit a name, go to http://newlacharter.ning.com/in-the-news/making-la-history
Gene Geiger, chairman of the Lewiston-Auburn Joint Charter Commission, explains the results of a merger study in January. Geiger announced Tuesday that the group is taking submissions for a new name for the consolidated city, in the event the merger is approved by voters.