Time to develop former prison property

Jan 16, 2020

The former Maine State Prison in Thomaston was torn down in 2002, which is getting pretty distant in the rear-view mirror.

In the aftermath of the prison moving to the new maximum security facility in Warren, there was a great deal of discussion about what would become of the Thomaston Green, as the former prison property site has come to be known.

We reported, about a decade ago now, that the property would be developed with a mix of retail businesses along Route 1 and a housing development behind that, deeper into the property.

However, all of these years later, it remains a flat, barren park.

Parks are nice, but due to its placement right on the Route 1 corridor, it seems to us the best use of this property would be development for both needed housing in the community and reasonable retail use. This development could add tax dollars to the town’s coffers, create jobs and build a new, attractive residential neighborhood.

The proposal to build a Doug’s Seafood restaurant on this stretch of Route 1 is a good step in the right direction. It is clear from comments online that a number of local residents are looking forward to going to this restaurant.

Sometimes after the first business owner bites on a development, others follow, and that presents an opportunity for the town.

We support plans for this business and development of the Green.

Put Founders Park concept to the voters

In Union, we have almost the opposite situation.

The town seized a small property next to the historically significant Founders Park on Brown Lane. A local resident has been working to add this property to expand the park.

Select board members have cited increased cost of upkeep, potential loitering and loss of property tax revenue as reasons for opposing the plan.

The loitering argument does not hold water, since there is no reason loiterers could not cause the same amount of trouble hanging around in the existing park.

The select board’s financial concerns present a more worthy argument.

Fortunately, Union has a town meeting form of government, so there is an easy solution to this debate. The select board should simply ask the townspeople at the annual meeting what they want to do with the property and present the pros and cons to adding it to the park. We would also suggest allowing Bill Stinson to make his case for adding to the park.

Looking at the issue in the long term, it seems to us that the benefits of adding the property and improving the park would outweigh the drawbacks, especially with the support of a park friends organization that has formed to advocate for it.

This is exactly the kind of decision the selectmen should be kicking to the voters.

Keeping cell tower debate respectful

Attorney Jonathan Springer, who represents a company proposing a cell tower in Rockland, is reported to have said in a recent meeting, the best way to prevent cell towers from being in a community was not to buy and use cell phones.

We paraphrase.

We also find this comment to be a bit flippant.

We would suggest to our readers that the best way to prevent projects damaging the character of your community is to look long and hard at the planning and zoning ordinances for your town or city and be sure the rules you put in place match your values.

We would encourage developers coming to our city to show proper respect for the concerns of our friends and neighbors.

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