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Thomaston Green future still undetermined

By Christine Simmonds | Oct 08, 2020
Photo by: Christine Simmonds Sumner Kinney speaks at the Thomaston Green workshop Oct. 7.

Thomaston — Thomaston residents voiced a variety of ideas for the Thomaston Green at a public workshop held over Zoom and in person Oct. 7.

Some residents expressed a desire for the site to remain undeveloped. Others wished for a balance of development and open space. Some residents questioned the legality of the entire referendum process.

The former prison site was purchased by Thomaston in 2005 for $285,000.

Two proposed development projects for the space were voted down by secret ballot during the Sept. 15 Town Meeting. One was senior housing through the company Avesta Housing. The other was a group home for Coastal Opportunities.

According to the press release, the workshop was held to “gather ideas and constructive thoughts from the Thomaston citizens for potential future uses of the Thomaston Green.”

Anson Norton said the land should be left the way it is and used as an event space. He suggested renting it out for weddings and holding the annual July Fourth celebration on the space.

“If we put something there, we will regret it in 10 years,” Norton said.

Amy Williams suggested several projects such as farmers markets, food trucks and a community garden. She said a committee could be formed to oversee these events.

Williams added that such events could draw people to Thomaston and make more money than the proposed developments would have.

Cindy Lang said she wanted to keep the Green undeveloped, and it would be “an ideal space for events.”

Jon Eaton said he was in favor of the two proposals. He said they would have provided tax money, and leave a lot of attractive space in the Green. “I think we can have both,” he said.

Dwight Henry said what happened in the election “was wrong.” He expressed frustration that the town spent so much money on the land and saw no return on that investment yet.

Thomaston residents would have moved into those housing projects, Henry said, and suggested that those who want to keep the space open should “ante up” and purchase it.

Summner Kinney said Thomaston already dedicated green spaces, and questioned why the matter was voted on. “I’m not sure why in the world it would have to go to referendum,” Kinney said, since residents already voted in past years for developing the land.

Kinney added that he feared the town was open to lawsuits for discrimination, due to the results of the vote.

Mimi Zwick and Charlie Grover also questioned if the proposed sales should have been voted on due to past votes to develop the land.

Grover added that the proposals were developed with a balance of development and open space, and would have brought income to the town. “We do have a lot of bills in this town,” he added.

Town Manager Kara George said guidance from the Maine Municipal Association was that sales of town land had to be approved by voters.

Select Board Vice Chairman Bill Hahn, who was also co-chair of the committee that began the process of looking at developing the land, gave some facts and figures regarding the space.

The Thomaston Green is a total of 15.6 acres, though not all of that is space that can be built on or used for recreation.

The Avesta Housing proposal was on 2.25 acres, while the Coastal Opportunities proposed project was 0.75 acres.

Hahn said that would have left about 12 acres of open and undeveloped land, that would have been retained by the town for public use.

Avesta would have purchased the land for $100,000 and paid an estimated $55,000 a year in taxes.

It has not been determined what Coastal Opportunities would pay.

Town Manager Kara George addresses questions at the Thomaston Green workshop Oct. 7. (Photo by: Christine Simmonds)
The workshop for the Thomaston Green is held in person and over Zoom Oct. 7. (Photo by: Christine Simmonds)
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Comments (2)
Posted by: Janie Jacques | Oct 11, 2020 02:51

I'd like to see a summer long arts & crafts fair there. People selling their products, demonstrating how they make them, a farmers market, baked goods, etc. The town has a big tent they could set up and the town's ladies could make it pretty with flowers and what not. I can think of so many things you could do with a set up like that. Just a thought.



Posted by: Kevin P Robertson | Oct 09, 2020 20:52

This area is my favorite spot in town to walk.  Views are great looking up and down the St George River.  We are so fortunate to have this open space in our community. Times have changed since the land was purchased.  Personally I’d like to keep it as it is for future generations to enjoy.

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