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Indians voice interest in a Maine base

BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Maine's Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Indian tribes have expressed interest in the Brunswick Naval Air Station, which is likely to be redeveloped after its closure.

The tribes are ruling out such ideas as a casino or a liquefied natural gas terminal at the site, which is being decommissioned as part of the base realignment and closure process.

The Navy is scheduled to leave the more than 3,000-acre site in 2011.

''We're not interested in being mavericks," said Tim Love, an economic development adviser to the Penobscots.

Craig Francis, general counsel for the Passamaquoddies, said: ''The tribe's thinking is that it's an opportunity that could be a win-win for everybody."

The two tribes expressed their interest in letters to the US Interior Department.

The Penobscots appear to have a clearer idea of what they'd do with the property, such as manufacturing a wood-based product, doing aviation maintenance and manufacturing airplane parts, or production of renewable energy. Love said the tribe intends to form a partnership with an existing business.

The Passamaquoddies are not publicizing specific plans.

''We're open-minded to anything," Francis said. ''It's going to really depend on how they think the land or the base is going to be redeveloped."

Unlike previous base closures, in which the Pentagon has given away the land, the base under the current process is to be sold. The government will seek fair market value for the property.

The two tribes in 2003 lost a statewide referendum on their proposal to develop a casino. Now, they are hoping that a collaborative approach will help them win a share of the possibilities in Brunswick.

''Whatever is done, we'll do it collectively," Love said.

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