The Thomaston Green situation is hardly at the top of anyone’s list of critical government issues – although it is among the longest-festering sores afflicting the Thomaston Select Board’s inability to address or at least listen to the concerns of its own citizens. The idea that private development of public space is Thomaston’s only option is frustrating, to put it mildly. A consultant, Matthew Eddy, who recently began a workshop on the Green by announcing, “not building on the Green is not an option,” engenders outrage among the nearly 50% of those who voted in June to preserve the Green as open space and potentially as a public park. Building on the Green opens the door to yet another strip mall in search of a city. Thomaston already has one of those between Dragon Cement and the Rockland City Line. Appearances matter and so does access to water, light and air for everyone. The Green is a natural gem – an open space welcoming residents and visitors alike and fittingly redeeming the former prison site to a place of freedom, openness, and solace. The Thomaston Green needs protection, not buildings.

As open space the Green tells businesses and families thinking of settling in Thomaston what the town values and why they should invest in its future. Fire stations and health clinics are better located where they do not compromise access to, and ownership of, publicly owned land that has functioned for nearly a generation as Thomaston’s only large public park that importantly is within walking distance of most residential neighborhoods and the historic business district. Of course, poetic justice might include giving the Green back to the original owners of the site, descendants of Native Americans who were kidnapped by the English explorers and who likely first set foot on the Green in 1605. The Green is among the most historic sites in America, even aside its later life as the model for Stephen King’s story of “The Shawshank Redemption.” Sometimes not building is a form of “development” that we need most right now and for those generations to come who will undoubtedly thank us for leaving the Green alone.

Chris Crosman