THOMASTON — About 40 residents came together to discuss the space known as the Thomaston Green at a Thursday, Sept. 15 workshop. Community members discussed thoughts and ideas for the space isolated from specific projects.

The workshop was the first in a series to rewrite the town’s plan for the space following several years of votes which left the community divided according to some residents, and failed to pass any plan or development.

Mathew Eddy of the Midcoast Council of Government facilitated the workshop. Eddy ran the workshop as a SWOT analysis. This means Eddy asked residents to name the specific strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the Thomaston Green, the informal name given to the Route 1 former prison site.

Eddy then wrote each item under its category and put each list on the wall. At the end of the meeting, residents were asked to indicate items they felt were most important.

The meeting began with a short presentation regarding the history of the space as he understood it. Eddy said his takeaway was the town would need to find a solution “in between” fully developed and not at all developed.

Strengths listed for the site included the fact that it is land Thomaston owns, it has natural beauty, it is historic and it is available and open.

Resident Noreen Mullaney named the controversy surrounding the space as a weakness, calling the space a “bone of contention.”

Eddy responded he “wouldn’t disagree with that.”

Other weaknesses named were pedestrian safety, not contributing to the tax base, existing upkeep costs and accessibility of the space.

A major opportunity identified was holding events like the annual Fourth of July celebration – the largest town celebration every year.

Other opportunities listed for the space included housing, making money back on the investment and a variety of activity spaces such as tennis and pickleball courts.

Misinformation and divisiveness were identified as threats to the space.

Eddy said plans for the space would “always be divisive” until the community could come up with a consensus for it..

Funding and costs were also identified as threats, as were loss of the view, over-development of the space and loss of open spaces.

Loss of control over the space was also expressed as a concern.

There were some raised voices, though, and some residents expressed displeasure with the workshop. Some said they did not want any development on the space. Others said they did not think the first workshop was advertised well enough.

Cindy Lang said she did not think Eddy’s history of the space was accurate. She said Eddy should make sure to include everyone.

Chris Crosman said he emailed Eddy regarding the workshop and never heard back. Eddy replied he had not received the email, but he could give Crosman his correct email address.

Crosman gave documents to Eddy which he said were the contents of his email, and left the workshop.

Mathew Eddy of Midcoast Council of Government. Photo by Christine Simmonds

The next workshop will be Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. in the Lura Libby room of the Thomaston Municipal Building. This meeting is open to the public.

The Sept. 29 workshop includes a presentation of the SWOT report, topic discussions and prioritizing the action steps.

The Oct. 26 workshop includes the action plan drafted by the MCOG staff to be presented to the Select Board for their consideration. Components include defined actions organized by priority and timing, financial resources needed to implement the action, responsible parties, time frame to complete the action, and benchmarks.

 

The workshops are paid for through MCOG’s technical assistance program with matching funds from Thomaston’s MCOG membership dues.

MCOG Executive Director Mathew Eddy has more than 40 years of experience in local, regional and state planning and development, most recently as the Planning and Development Director in Biddeford. He has worked extensively throughout the region, including tenures in Brunswick, Bath, and Camden.