Borough looks to Portugal for sister city

NAUGATUCK — Some people return from vacation with photos and keepsakes. Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess returned from a vacation last month with a potential sister city for Naugatuck.

While on vacation in Portugal in January, Hess was introduced to Vila Pouca de Aguiar Mayor Alberto Machado.

Although the main purpose of the trip was vacation, the two mayors discussed how entering into a “sister city” arrangement could benefit both municipalities.

A sister city arrangement is a formal declaration between two municipalities to promote economic and cultural understanding.

“I think we offer to them what they offer to us, which is comradery, friendship, good relations and goodwill between our respective countries,” Hess said.

Vila Pouca de Aguiar, which is in the northern part of Portugal and had a population of approximately 13,000 as of 2011, is known for its bottled water factory, granite exports and ancient Roman gold mines, Hess said.

Although Vila Pouca de Aguiar is about 3,300 miles away from Naugatuck, Hess said the two municipalities have a lot in common, including being located in a valley.

“It is not an elite, fancy town. It is a real, living embodiment of everyday life in Portugal. I think it is very similar to Naugatuck. We are a valley town with a middle income, or less. Some people struggle over there. Some people struggle here. It is not for the elite; it is for the hard-working Portuguese,” Hess said.

Hess said having a sister city in Portugal make sense because of Naugatuck’s strong Portuguese heritage.

“To me, having the Portuguese culture in Naugatuck for my entire life has been a great experience and one that I treasure,” Hess said.

In order to become sister cities, the two municipalities must first approve it, which the Board of Mayor and Burgesses did on Feb. 5.

Hess expected Vila Pouca de Aguiar to approve the agreement shortly.

Once it is approved, each municipality invites the other’s mayor over to take an official tour, Hess said.

Hess said he wasn’t sure when the arrangement will become official.