A sign at Thomaston Green urges local voters to vote "no" on a proposal to allow a community health care clinic to be developed at the former state prison site. The proposal was narrowly approved by voters, 159-155, at Thomaston's annual open town meeting on June 14, 2023. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

Thomaston voters narrowly approved a measure to allow a community health clinic to be built on the former Maine State Prison property.

The proposal to allow Knox Clinic to build on 1.5 acres of the Route 1 site, which is now owned by the town, passed Wednesday night by four votes, 159 to 155. As part of the vote, residents also set a minimum sale price of the land of $52,655 per acre, or nearly $79,000 for a subdivided 1.5-acre parcel.

The proposal was one of three warrant articles relating to the 15-acre former prison site, known as Thomaston Green, that were presented to voters at Thomaston’s annual open town meeting. All three questions relating to the green were approved.

Two others — one to keep the southern half of the property, away from Route 1, as park space and one to use up to 2.7 acres of the property for a new building for the town’s fire and ambulance departments — were approved by a show of consensus.

The clinic question was decided by an impromptu written ballot vote conducted during the meeting.

The property, where the former state prison was demolished in 2002, has been owned by the town since 2005. The town acquired the site with the intent of finding a way to redevelop it, but until now voters turned down all the proposals brought to them — including one to keep it undeveloped.

Last year, residents voted by ballot against a measure to preserve the entire property as green space. The latter, brought forth as a citizen’s initiative, lost by a mere 22 votes. There were 750 ballots cast in that election.

Prior development proposals for the green were also rejected. In 2016, the town’s planning board denied an application by Dollar General to build a store on the site while in 2020, voters shot down two proposals to develop housing for older adults and for adults with disabilities.

It wasn’t immediately clear what the next step for the new developments will be for the site.

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....