|© Lara Strachan
The Town of Thomaston, located in Litchfield County, encompasses a land area of 12.0 square miles and has a population of 7,922. The Town is 10 miles south of Torrington, 23 miles west of Hartford and is bordered by Waterbury, Plymouth, Harwinton, Litchfield, and Watertown. Thomaston originated in 1674 as part of the Mattatuck Plantation, now the City of Waterbury.
The Town is easily accessible by an excellent highway system. Route 8, a four-lane State highway, provides north-south interstate connections from Bridgeport to Winsted, where it meets Route 44 and continues north to the Massachusetts border. Interstate 84, the major east-west highway through Connecticut, is located just 11 miles south of the Town. Intra-town traffic is served by U.S. Route 6 and State routes 254, 109, and 262, which pass through the Town. Air transport is available at the Oxford Regional, New Haven-Tweed and Bradley International Airports.
Thomaston occupies a unique location in the Naugatuck Valley. With three federal flood control dams and the Mattatuck State Forest, nearly 20% of the community is either under the ownership of or administered by the State of Connecticut or the United States Army Corp of Engineers. An additional 10% is either steep slopes or wetland areas. Hence, 30% or more of the community is expected to retain a rural character.
Form of Government
The Town operates under a Town Meeting form of government, with a Board of Selectmen consisting of three elected members and a Board of Finance made up of six elected members. The Town Meeting is the legislative body of the Town and must approve the annual budget and all bond and note authorizations, except for refunding bonds which only need to be approved by the Board of Selectmen. The First Selectman is the Chief Executive of the Town, and is responsible for the administration of all Town business matters. The First Selectman presides over the Board of Selectmen, has full voting privileges, and is elected to a two-year term of office every odd-numbered year. An elected Treasurer and an appointed Finance Director assist the First Selectman in financial matters.
Thomaston is a residential community with a diversified manufacturing economic base. The Town’s proximity to the Naugatuck River continues to be a major factor in its natural appeal to the development of certain types of industries.
Best known for its namesake and founder, Seth Thomas, who established the Seth Thomas Clock Company in Thomaston in the late 1800s, the Town continues to be home to many small and medium-sized manufacturers. The original clock factory has now become a vibrant industrial park and is home to more than 20 tenants, employing nearly 500 people, many of whom work in skilled manufacturing trades. The current owners have expanded the site from 275,000 square feet to nearly 312,000 over the past decade to accommodate growth and demand for industrial and manufacturing space.
The Town of Thomaston has made changes in its Plan of Development that will permit the creation of an industrial park which would be located on Reynolds Bridge Road adjacent to an area already zoned and in use by many small to medium size manufacturers. Five large lots are proposed for development in the 22.39-acre parcel. The area is contiguous to Route 8, a divided highway which permits easy access to freight transport. The developer also plans to construct a 50-unit senior housing complex near the industrial park.
Changes to the Zoning District Map are also intended to slow the pace of residential development, which in the past decade has been more than double the State average, by increasing lot sizes, particularly in those areas not served by municipal water and sewer service.
Also economically significant is the recent renovation of the town-owned Thomaston Opera House, which is considered to be one of the finest examples of Victorian/Gothic architecture in the state. In the past several years, the theater has undergone many improvements and restorations perpetuating its original function as a multipurpose cultural and recreational center for Litchfield County and Greater Waterbury. The Thomaston Opera House produces a full schedule of theatrical and musical performances each year, including several theater organ concerts. The Town’s Opera House Commission oversees its activities and plans additional restoration projects and the establishment of an endowment fund.
The Naugatuck Railroad Company, a branch of the Railroad Museum of New England, will continue to contribute significantly to Thomaston’s tourist industry in 2003. The Company is currently renovating the historic Thomaston Train Station and has relocated its headquarters from Waterbury to Thomaston. Renovations to the train station are on going and have been funded by a combination of private and public grants. The train route loops from Waterbury to Thomaston and north toward Torrington. It runs a regular schedule in the summer and fall as well as running trains for special events. Once renovations are complete, it is expected to bring 25,000 to 35,000 passengers into the Town of Thomaston annually.
Thomaston’s residential sector consists predominantly of single-family homes affordable across a broad range of income levels. Affordability and accessibility have been prime factors in the consistent levels of residential development. With the recent completion of a 160-home subdivision and a new 30-home subdivision having recently begun construction, it is anticipated that residential growth will continue.
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