THOMASTON — Residents worked in groups to outline and present their vision for the Thomaston Green in the hopes of finding a common ground on which the community can agree. The Thursday, Sept. 29 workshop was the second of three on the former prison site, all being held at the Lura Libby Room in the Thomaston Municipal Building.

The first workshop, held Sept. 15, consisted of a brief history of the Green followed by an analysis and prioritizing exercise. Residents listed strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) regarding the space, then identified their top priorities for each category.

These workshops are facilitated by Mathew Eddy, executive director of the Midcoast Council of Governments. Eddy’s services were paid for by the town’s membership dues to the Midcoast Council of Governments and the organization’s technical assistance program.

Eddy said the goal of this workshop was not to establish a design for the site, but instead to find “some level of consensus” on the development strategy. Eddy said such a consensus for moving forward with a design was necessary in order to attract any company or business to do the work.

Eddy said some primary themes emerged from the first workshop. Residents wanted the Green to be environmentally diverse, desired design plans to be respectful of the community and feared the space could become an “exclusive domain.”

Eddy said the first workshop also indicated residents felt the current master plan for the design was “not acceptable.”

Diversity came out as a high-priority issue, Eddy said. “Diversity of activities, diversity of people if you’re living there, diversity of incomes, diversity of environment… Just generally diversity.” He said any future plan should balance the preservation of the Green’s natural beauty and assets with a mixture of property development supporting community activities.

Some unique advantages had also become clear from the first workshop, Eddy said. The Thomaston Green was close to downtown and to public water. The land had a “fascinating history” which could be told through the development of the property. Eddy identified the former prison graveyard at the back of the land as an important historical site to be remembered in the design as well.

He identified the view of the St. George River as “spectacular” and said that view should be preserved in all future plans, perhaps as a space for activities like a farmer’s market.

The Thomaston Green was already recognized in the community for passive and active recreation use, Eddy pointed out, like walking dogs. It was fifteen acres of relatively flat land with room for both development and a preserved open space.

Parking, bathroom facilities and limiting direct access from Route One were also important for the future design, he said.

Eddy then had the crowd separate into three diverse groups consisting of people with varying points of view on the Green. These three groups listed desires and priorities for the land and shared their results with the larger gathering.

Many of the three groups’ items overlapped.

All three said they wanted to limit development so it was closer to Route One and preserve an area of open space. They identified the importance of signage to indicate to visitors there was a recreational park as well as increasing the amount of available parking.

Any development on the land should match the architecture of the rest of town, the three groups agreed. This could include a fire station and a medical clinic sharing one facility as well as multi-story buildings with retail spaces on the first floor and housing on the second and third floors.

Other ideas the groups identified were installing power for events in the open space, adding plants and sculptures and integrating the parcel with the town’s trail systems.

The final Thomaston Green workshop will be held Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. in the Lura Libby Room.

Eddy said at this workshop he would present the findings from that day and provide a pathway to the next steps. These next steps, and guidelines for creating a design the community can agree on, would be given to the Thomaston Select Board for further action.