THOMASTON — Residents on both sides of the issue came out in force to speak their minds on the upcoming vote regarding the former prison site, known as the Thomaston Green.

The public hearing on two opposing warrant articles lasted more than two hours.

During the discussion, lawyers for both sides agreed the passage of the citizen’s initiative would mean the town could not build a new fire station on the property.

The citizen’s initiative, article 4 on the June 14 ballot, will “permanently dedicate the 15.6-acre parcel known as the ‘Thomaston Green’ for use as a public park for recreational and community events and related infrastructure.”

A citizen’s initiative is a legal petition submitted by the citizens of a municipality. If the qualifications are met, these initiatives must be brought before the voters as warrant articles, Town Manager Kara George said when she presented it to the select board.

The town’s counter article, article 3, was suggested and drafted by attorney Paul Gibbons as a counter warrant, George said. This article asks voters to “allow the Town to determine the future use of… the Thomaston Green” and prevents the space from being made a permanent park.

The town clarified in a press release that all plans for the space will include a park.

Members of the Friends of Thomaston Green, the group that brought the initiative to the town, said they feel the two articles support different results, and the group supports a no vote on the town’s counter article.

Those in favor of the citizen’s initiative said it is a historic space and should be preserved for the future. They said any development on the property would be detrimental to the space, and argued the town had plenty of other properties to develop instead.

“Develop one part, you develop all of it,” said resident Seth Silverton.

Critics of the initiative focused on the word “permanent” in the article, and said that would prevent anything from ever being built on the space.

Resident Charlie Grover said everyone in town wanted a park on that space, but the question was size. “Do we need the whole 15 acres?” he asked.

Various representatives of The Friends of the Thomaston Green said the word permanent was only in the article because grants and other funding were available for spaces designated as “permanent parks.”

Resident Chris Crosman said he understood people were upset by the word, but access to nature should be preserved in a permanent way.

Multiple residents pointed out the town was in need of a new fire station, and the citizen’s initiative would keep that from happening on the former prison site.

Alan Leo said the town had looked at other properties, and the only appropriate property in town already owned by Thomaston was on the Thomaston Green.

Thomaston Fire Chief Mike Mazzeo agreed with Leo’s statement, and said rebuilding the station in its currently lot would leave the fire department with no location during the time it was being built.

When some proponents for the citizen’s initiative argued fire and emergency services buildings could still be built on the site if it passed, Gibbons stated the wording of the warrant meant that could not happen.

Moderator Mike Mayo asked Amanda Meader, attorney for The Friends of the Thomaston Green, if she agreed with Gibbons. She said she did.

Both attorneys also agreed that if both articles passed, the town would need to hold another vote.

Meredith Batley, director of the Knox Clinic, said she also had an opportunity for the town to build a community health center on the space, but she could only do that if residents did not pass the citizen’s initiative.

Batley said this center would include access to medical, dental and mental health care.

She said the Knox Clinic architect indicated the space on the Thomaston Green along Route One was the optimal space.

The town’s ballot vote is June 14 at the Municipal Building. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Absentee ballots are available.

A video recording of the meeting is available at townhallstreams.com/towns/thomaston_me.