I certainly don’t wish to have PETA hounding me for beating a dead horse (or mixed animal metaphors). But the aftermath of the Thomaston Green saga still haunts.

During these glorious days of high summer in Maine, it pains me the Thomaston Select Board engineered a vote to NOT preserve the Green for public use and eventual development as a public park. But, rather, the Select Board succeeded in manipulating residents into keeping the private development doors wide open.

First, the Select Board reneged on its promise to convene a citizen’s advisory “task group” to look into the Green. Second, following our citizen’s initiative to gather petition signatures during the dead of winter and in the teeth of the COVID crisis, the Select Board engaged the Town attorney to devise an unnecessary and misleading counter ballot question. Finally, at a Town meeting in order to (in theory) argue both sides, we were sandbagged by unnecessary “rules” limiting speakers to 3 minutes, rather than simply offering ample time in the form of a presentation to thoroughly describe both sides of the issue in sufficient detail for the public to make an informed decision. Instead, we get a Select Board minion — not as cute but every bit as cartoonish as the movie version — hovering inches behind individual speakers in case they would speak a single second over the 180 seconds allotted.

The bottom line is because of Select Board misinformation and fearmongering, Thomaston citizens lost the opportunity to carefully weigh the central question: Why should Thomaston citizens want to preserve a centrally located public park in a historic setting with spectacular views up and down the St. George River for themselves and for future generations? Do the stalking horses of moving the fire station or a proposed Knox County health facility really need to be on the Green when there are numerous other, doubtless less intrusive, more cost effective, options that have not yet been studied?

Those of us who volunteered our time, energy, and financial support to preserve the Green, are, of course, disappointed by the narrow defeat of our effort to permanently preserve the Green (less than two dozen votes). Just to be clear, every public park in America is permanently preserved, in part because parks belong to the public, not private interests — including elected officials’ perfidious acts and omissions — and in order for parks to raise tax exempt funds for park improvements.

I, and nearly half the citizens in Town who voted, will continue to oppose private development of the Green. We also believe it is long past time for government leaders to address ideas other than their own myopic views in order to better serve the long term interests of our community. An outdated economic development vision that has failed for the past two decades and never made sense in the first place needs to be looked at in the context of today’s economic, environmental, social and recreational needs, including, and especially, cost benefit. Rockland’s artistic/business renaissance didn’t happen because of government and certainly not because its citizens said “no” to creative initiatives that served as catalyst for strengthening every aspect of community life.

So, my message to the Thomaston Select Board is have a good day and enjoy this wonderful summer. But advocates for preserving the Green are not going away. We will see you whenever you wish to talk to us. Or, even if you do not.

Christopher Crosman