letter to the editor

The future of Thomaston Green

Fri, 06/02/2023 - 1:45pm

Eighteen years have passed since Thomaston acquired the 15.5-acre site of the former Maine State Prison, and the only thing built there is a gazebo for public enjoyment. I hope we all consider this a testament to the town’s careful stewardship of a property that is a rare jewel. The town has followed the old maxim of “first, do no harm.”

The voter-adopted Thomaston Green Master Plan of 2008 envisioned a public footpath along the river overlook and a centrally located green space, with most of the remaining acreage available for development.

At the upcoming town meeting on June 14, voters can amend that plan to preserve as green space all the acreage south of William King Street—i.e., the entire most scenic half of the site overlooking the river.

Article 3 of the town meeting warrant reads, “Shall the Town vote to adopt the revised conceptual plan of the Thomaston Green for all land south of William King Street as well as the tree-lined esplanade from Route 1 to be reserved as park space?”

I hope voters approve this, confining future development to the Route 1 frontage of the site.

As a member of the Thomaston Economic and Community Development Committee, I believe the right sort of development along Route 1 will be good for the town.

Anything built there will have to conform to the zoning standards crafted for the site and passed by voters in 2012; these standards can be reviewed on the town website. Also, any proposed project will have to be voter-approved on a case-by-case basis, since the town owns the land.

I believe that any development on the Route 1 frontage should be required to enhance the public good and public enjoyment of the Green, preserving and improving views and pedestrian access from Route 1 into the park.

Articles 4 and 5 of the upcoming town meeting warrant present voters with two proposed projects for the Route 1 frontage of the Green: a new fire station and a new community health center, respectively. Both are needed. Both will enhance the community. Both are worthy of support, and both can be designed and landscaped to highlight the views and access into the green space behind them.

The health center will serve all income levels. Among other great things, it will provide dental services and accept reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid.

I hope voters will take the time to inform themselves on these articles from objective sources.

Jonathan Eaton lives in Thomaston