The Mayor of Stuart, Florida, Troy A. McDonald, along with his wife Portia Scott and Ricardo Treco, Consul General of the Bahamas Consulate in Miami, Florida paid a formal courtesy call in the Hope Town District from July 25 to 27, during which a resolution was signed making the two townships ‘sister cities’.
After signing the agreement on Saturday morning the Mayor was given a tour of the Hope Town District which included a trip to Man-O-War Cay before returning to Florida on Sunday. The tour in Hope Town included stops at Wyannie Malone Museum, a stop at the transfer station and a viewing of the dune road. While in Man-O-War the Mayor was shown the craftsmanship of Albury Brothers and Joe Albury as well as the famous Albury’s Sail Shop among other sites. The day concluded with a nice dinner at Harbour’s Edge.
Mr. McDonald was warmly welcomed at the Leonard Thompson International Airport Terminal, where he was presented with a Key for the City of Marsh Harbour from Minister of Parliament for Central and South Abaco, Edison Key.
During the signing of the sister cities agreement, which was read by Council Member Don Cash, members of the council welcomed the Mayor and shared their best wishes on the agreement.
Jeremy Sweeting, Chief Councillor of the Hope Town District Council, said that the signing of the agreement marked “a special day in the history of Hope Town and the Hope Town district. We consider this the start of our official relationship with the City of Stuart.”
Mr. Sweeting noted that Abaconians are no stranger to the Treasure Coast of Florida as thousands travel there each year “for business, commerce, and of course leisure and vacation time.”
He noted the similarities that both cities share as well as some significant differences as it relates to population and budget, as Stuart is home to about 10 times the population of the Hope Town District and has a significantly larger budget. He said “although our systems of municipal government may slightly differ, we have the same goals; To deliver efficient and effective services to our constituents and to leave our communities better than we found them.”
Mr. Sweeting said “it is my profound honour on this most auspicious occasion, to welcome you to this district, the Hope Town district, and we look forward to building a lasting friendship that will endure from generation to generation.”
Mr. McDonald said he was honored to travel the Hope Town District in Abaco and was struck with the warm reception he and his wife received.
He said that “while we have some differences in population and budget, we have the same common goals as Hope Town and its District Council; we want to provide good quality services and we want to leave the City of Stuart better than we found it.”
He noted that they too were challenged, though they have home rule “it is under constantly attack from the state; so we embrace your struggle to be able to govern yourselves. It’s important that we are able to govern ourselves and chart our own course.”
Mr. McDonald said “That’s why these sister city relationships are so important; it gives us the opportunity to speak with each other and to learn how each of us are doing things in different places.”
He noted the common bonds shared by The City of Stuart and Hope Town District, most notably the geographical area, sport fishing and eco-tourism. “But we have another bond; one of our historic communities in Stuart was founded in part by Bahamian immigrants who came to help build the railroad at the turn of the twentieth century.”
Mr. McDonald said he looks forward to embracing and sharing each other’s cultures and seeing how they can use the agreement to increase each other’s economic prosperity and develop new friendships and relationships.
Mr. Treco said he was honored to be a part of the historic occasion and congratulated the two cities on the signing of the agreement.
“As a consul general, and Florida being my primary jurisdiction, I want to be sure I progress the agenda of The Bahamas in trying to develop opportunities in various cities for partnerships and relationships that will be mutually beneficial,” he said.
Mr. McDonald said his trip was fantastic and was impressed with the warmth of the people. “The entire Hope Town District Council along with the Chief Councillor were inviting, friendly, embracing and warm and they did a wonderful job of hosting us.”
He added that Hope Town is “one of the most quaint, charming and beautiful places I have ever been, and I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the world. The focus on history and architecture is wonderful and is one of the things that patterns with our own community.”
He said “we have the opportunity to work on our partnership; it’s economic, it’s cultural, it’s tourism and it’s understand how each community does something. We can embrace the things that are similar, in the areas of tourism and the environment that we care about, and we can turn that into a partnership with the cross-marketing of social media, websites and whatever we can use, and we can leverage it into something that can help Stuart to become a gateway to The Bahamas and Hope Town be a gateway for people coming to Stuart.”