THOMASTON — After multiple community meetings and a June vote which community members say left the town divided, members of the Thomaston Select Board received a new plan for the Thomaston Green on Monday, Dec. 19

The board did not take any action on the plan, but discussed various paths forward, voiced questions and concerns about the plan and said they hope to present something to voters at the next June Town Meeting.

Mat Eddy of the Midcoast Council of Governments presented the plan, titled “Thomaston Green Plan of Action: Compromise and Consensus,” at the Dec. 19 Select Board meeting. Eddy also facilitated the community workshops on the Green, which he said had good attendance and good discussions.

The plan Eddy presented divides the space known as the Thomaston Green into seven lots with various approved usages, including community space, mixed-use development space and preserved open space.

Eddy said the community discussions indicated the need for a final survey or referendum to gauge public support for the plan, and the plan included suggested questions.

In addition to the survey, Eddy said the town should create financial plans, develop a capital improvement program to define expected costs and hire a landscape architect to “further define the landscape planning.”

Eddy said the lots marked for community space may include structures like a new fire station, health care clinic, emergency center or community bathrooms.

The plan of action earmarks much of the space from William King Street to U.S. Route 1, where the gazebo is located, as permanent open space to maintain the viewshed. Eddy said community members expressed support for using this area to host community events such as farmers markets or for public art such as a water feature. Eddy said he heard a lot about food trucks using that space as well.

The lots proposed for mixed-use could include multiple-story developments like retail or housing, Eddy said.

Eddy said there was a strong sense from the community discussions that residents want Thomaston to be pedestrian and bike friendly, so any plans for the Green should include pedestrian features as well as appropriate parking. He said Thomaston residents also expressed a desire for diverse landscaping on the Green.

Board member Peter Lammert asked about the mentioned water features and if they would pose a danger of drowning.

Eddy said he did not think so, as the water features discussed were not large or expansive. It was just an idea that was thrown out, he said.

Lammert said he wished some of the ideas were thought through and included “the new potential from people that are clueless and don’t watch their children.”

Eddy said any water feature would be a visual architectural piece and not intended for recreation such as swimming or even wading.

Lammert said he felt some of the ideas in the plan of action were “fraught with problems.”

Board member Bill Hahn said he would prefer the lots were different, and also expressed concerns about some aspects of the plan.

Hahn said he was not sure the Maine Department of Transportation would support this plan, as it was the opposite of what the town originally presented to MDOT.

Hahn wondered if the mixed-use space would be marketable to a commercial operation, as it was set far back from Main Street. Eddy said that was a possible question to consider.

Board Chair Diane Giese said she felt people who were adamant about keeping the entire Thomaston Green as park space were not well represented at the community meetings, and the atmosphere was not welcoming for those folks.

“The first meeting felt to me like there were already decisions having been made,” Giese said.

The board discussed various methods to achieve the suggested survey and possible changes to how the questions were worded, but did not determine or vote on any course of action. Giese said the board would likely work on the survey with input from residents, but this would take time.

Hahn said the town should have something to present voters at the next June Town Meeting.

When discussing possible next steps, Hahn said the board should make sure there was voter support for this plan before spending time and effort creating things like a capital plan.

The Thomaston Green, the informal name given to the space on U.S. Route 1 that was once the site of the Maine State Prison, has been the subject of multiple votes over the past few years.

The town voted on two opposing articles for the land at the June 2022 Town Meeting. One article was a citizen’s petition dedicating the entire 15.6-acre space as a “permanent park.” The other article was drafted by the town attorney as a “counter article” to allow the town to determine the future of the space.

The citizen’s petition was narrowly voted down, 369-347, and the town’s counter article was passed in another close race, 368-324.

In July, the Select Board accepted a recommendation from the town’s economic development committee to revisit the plan for the Thomaston Green, and discussed hiring a moderator to facilitate community discussions around the design.

In August the board approved a series of community workshop discussions, facilitated by Eddy. These workshops occurred from September to November.

In other business, the Select Board accepted the appointment of Jaime Edwards to the Thomaston Recreation Committee.

Edwards has been a resident of Thomaston for 12 years, and said in her committee application she wanted to join the recreation committee to work with seniors. She has experience in this field through her work for the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Aging and Disability.

The board accepted two significant resignations from well-known residents at the meeting as well.

Peggy McCrea resigned from her position as Chair of the Historic Thomaston Resource Group. McCrea said in a Dec. 2 email that while she still had a desire to serve on the group and strong feelings about historic preservation in town, she no longer had the energy for the work.

McCrea ended her email with recommendations to protect historic properties in town.

Planning Board Chair Joanne Richards requested the board remove Charles Frattini from his position on the Planning Board due to ill health.

Frattini suffered a severe stroke in January, leaving him with significant health issues and unable to serve in his position as Vice Chair of the Planning Board.

Richards said this meant an alternate position was available on the Planning Board.

Any Thomaston residents interested in applying for the position on the Planning Board can fill out a boards and committee application.

Applications can be picked up at the town office or found on the town website by selecting “join a board or committee” under the “boards and committees” section of the “government” dropdown menu.

Recordings of this and other meetings can be found at townhallstreams.com/towns/thomaston_me.

A copy of the Thomaston Green Plan of Action can be found in the Dec. 19 Select Board packet on the Thomaston town website: thomastonmaine.gov.

The next Thomaston Select Board meeting is Monday, Jan. 9, 2023 at 6 p.m.

The Thomaston Green Action Analysis Map, from the Thomaston Green Plan of Action, displaying proposed subdivisions for the 15.6 acres of land owned by the town. Courtesy of Mat Eddy

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