THOMASTON, Maine — Voters in Thomaston will be deciding the fate of two housing development proposals Tuesday that could help broaden the town’s tax base and provide housing for both older adults and people with disabilities.
Both development projects are slated for Thomaston Green, which was the site of the former Maine State Prison, but is now an open greenspace. The town has been looking for ways to develop the space in a way that would economically benefit the town for about the last decade.
Town officials say the proposals going before voters this week would achieve development goals the town has been searching for.
“After developing our comprehensive plan, there seemed to be a clear message that there was a need for more housing as well as something to supplement our tax base,” Thomaston Town Manager Kara George said.
One proposal is from Avesta Housing, which has overseen about 100 development projects across the state that focus on providing affordable apartments to people over the age of 55.
Avesta is proposing to build a 40-48 unit apartment building on about 90,000 square-feet of the Thomaston Green. The apartments would be available to people over the age of 55 who are on limited incomes. Rental costs would be about $600 to $700 a month, according to Avesta.
The development would contribute about $55,000 to $60,000 in taxes to the town of Thomaston annually. Avesta would purchase the land from the town for $100,000.
Given that Thomaston has a large population of people over the age of 55 who are in need of an affordable way to age in place, town officials feel it would be a worthwhile development.
“We have an increasingly elderly population in our town and there is such a need for this kind of housing,” George said.
The second proposal is from Coastal Opportunities, which provides services — including residential housing — to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The non-profit is looking to move out of a two-story home on Main Street where six residents currently live.
Coastal Opportunities is proposing to build a new 4,000-square foot home on the green. The cost for this project would be $1.2 million.
Since Coastal Opportunities is a non-profit organization, it is exempt from paying property taxes. However, George said the organization has agreed to pay a yet-to-be determined sum of money to the town in lieu of taxes.