On June 14, Thomaston voters will choose between Articles 3 and 4 on the town warrant. Passage of Article 3 will “allow the Town to determine the future use” of the Thomaston Green. Passage of Article 4 will “permanently dedicate the 15.6-acre parcel for use as a public park for recreational and community events and related infrastructure.”
The Yes-on-4 folks appear concerned that the town will not continue to preserve a significant portion of the site as green space for use by the community. This concern is unfounded.
Everyone knows what a treasure the Green is. The town’s acquisition of this land in the village overlooking the St. George River was a once-in-a-lifetime stroke of fortune. The town has been a good steward of it for 15 years. The trails through the Green should always remain public. The river overlook should never be privatized. There should always be ample parkland, just as the existing voter-approved plan envisions.
At the May 25 public hearing on the Green, the Yes-on-4 group’s attorney agreed with the town’s attorney that passage of Article 4 would permanently prohibit development on the Green. The Green’s Route 1 frontage may be the best location for a new fire station or a community health center. However, if Yes-on-4 prevails, neither would be allowed.
Any development on the Green requires voter approval. Last year, Thomaston voters rejected an over-55 housing development that would have provided much-needed affordable housing and $55,000 in annual property taxes while leaving most of the Green—and all of its highest-value portions—untouched. That annual revenue could have been dedicated to maintaining the Green as a park. The rejection of that proposal underscores the existing power of the voters.
The Yes-on-4 lawn signs ask us to “save the Green.” Save it from what, exactly? Ourselves? Let’s keep the voters’ options open. Vote Yes on Article 3, No on 4.
Cindy Bertocci and Jonathan Eaton live in Thomaston