LEWISTON — Former Lewiston Deputy City Administrator Phil Nadeau and Clifton Greim, president of Harriman, Architects + Engineers, moderators at OneLA’s rally Wednesday night, attempted to push for collaboration between the Twin Cities.

“When this merger occurs,” Nadeau said, “it’s a game changer. I’m saying when, not if.”

Both moderators spoke in favor of the proposed Lewiston-Auburn merger to an agreeable audience at The Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center, expanding on their ideas more than they were able to during the debates. 

“There’s a larger discussion that needs to be had here, and it’s about the opportunity we have in front of us right now,” Greim said. “If we’re courageous enough to do this, is there a way and should there be a way we plan together – and as a community, have one voice to work together?”

Greim said money is not the significant factor for the merger. What’s important is the opportunity that’s been lost and that would continue to be lost without merging, he said. 

“This is a real opportunity to move this community forward,” Greim said.

He said Lewiston and Auburn can continue as two independent communities, or consolidate their communities and minimize political variables.

Nadeau said he knows from his time working on the administrative side how much more seamless it would be as one city with one government and one administrative system.

“This opportunity to merge doesn’t come along very often,” he added. 

Nadeau said he doesn’t think the two cities are in a moment of crisis, but he doesn’t think they should wait until then to make this move. “Why wait for the other shoe to drop?” he asked.

“If you take the assets of both cities and package them, it would be powerful,” Nadeau said. 

Greim and Nadeau spoke about the cities needing a unified plan and vision in order to be successful, and how that would be much easier to do as one city. 

The visioning and planning hasn’t begun, but one audience member said he believes more people would be apt to vote in favor of the merger if they were voting for a plan, not a prospect.

Nadeau said the new plan could build off current ones, and used previous plans from both cities as examples of processes that the merger could use. 

“ADAPT process, Lewiston Legacy process, I don’t see why we couldn’t adopt those,” he said. “It would be a big undertaking but it would be necessary.” 

Nadeau said he’s heard from voters who are worried about losing a sense of identity from their city, but he doesn’t think that would happen. He used New York City as an example, citing the five unique identities of its five separate boroughs. 

Greim said the merger wouldn’t be starting from ground zero in terms of planning, saying they could sift through the current plans of each city.

He also shared what his five key points to a successful merger are. “We should have a vision that represents future thinking, a strategic plan, an implementation strategy and timeline, a community message, and sales.” 

“At the end of it, we’re a sales team,” Greim said.

He said the cities, alone or merged, need to sell themselves to potential residents, families and business, and to those they already have.

“With the people we have,” Greim said, “we have the ability, resources and assets to elevate ourselves.”

Clifton Greim, president of Harriman, Architects + Engineers, left, and Phil Nadeau, former Lewiston deputy city administrator, address a campaign rally for One LA at the Gendron Center in Lewiston on Wednesday evening. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)


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