Chad Fierros, left, Terry DeWan and Nancy Wines-DeWan stop to listen to Michael Fralich while hiking on the Norumbega Trails system that he and his wife Julie own. The Fralichs plan to transfer that ownership to the Maine Bureau of Parks & Lands in 2023, resulting in a 193-acre parcel to become known as Talking Brook Public Land. Patti Mikkelsen / For Lakes Region Weekly

Land transfer project receives public input

The Royal River Conservation Trust, representatives of the Maine Bureau of Parks & Lands, and the Trust for Public Land held a public comment session Oct. 20 to review details of the planned creation of the Talking Brook Public Land conservation project. Discussions included an overview of parking areas, trail reconfiguration and envisioned uses.

Patti Mikkelsen can be contacted at [email protected]

The land is to be donated by the Fralich family, which collaborated on plans with the state agencies and the the Royal River Conservation Trust in December 2021 to expand and consolidate Big Falls Preserve and Norumbega Trails. The new parcel would become a 193-acre conservation property in New Gloucester and Auburn known as Talking Brook Public Land. It would be owned by the state and managed by the Royal River Conservation Trust.

Neighbors who attended the public session on Oct. 21 expressed a concern about parking. They said the existing parking area on the shoulders of Woodman Road needs to be improved to make it safer and more orderly. Moreover, it is insufficient to meet the full parking needs of the proposed public land parcel.

Alan Stearns, executive director of the Royal River Conservation Trust, said the owner of Norumbega Cidery, Noah Fralich, son of Michael and Julie Fralich, has agreed to transfer to the Bureau of Public Lands a half-acre near the corner of Woodman Road and Meadow Lane with access by the existing Norumbega Cidery driveway off Woodman Road, for a new parking lot.

One group of attendees stayed behind to talk further about parking strategies and other details, while another group took a hike led by Michael Fralich. Hikers were treated to a few of his stories, ranging from sentimental personal family histories to flora and fauna discovered in the surrounding forest.

So, how did Talking Brook get its name?

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Fralich said he had checked U.S. Geological Survey maps, and there was no name given for the brook. While camping, he noticed when the stream was active he could swear that people were talking and laughing. Thus, he informally dubbed it Talking Brook. He said that Adam Pereira of the trust took it upon himself to go through an entire one-year process consulting with the federal government and indigenous peoples of the area to clear usage of the name.

“The federal government reviewed the request, and this forever will be Talking Brook officially,” he said.

New Outdoor & Fitness Center

The closure of the YMCA Pineland Branch two months ago has led to a major transformation. Pineland Farms’ Outdoor Center, 15 Farm View Drive, has moved to the former YMCA building at 25 Campus Drive. Their new name has elongated to the Outdoor & Fitness Center at Pineland Farms. The anticipated opening date was Nov. 1, and plans for a Grand Opening Celebration, which will be open to the public, is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 5. More details are to come.

Book donations and sale

A book collection will be held from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Community Building, 381 Intervale Road. Of particular interest are children’s books, adult fiction and nonfiction. Please limit donations to two cartons or four grocery-sized bags.

Friends of the New Gloucester Public Library’s Pre-Holiday Book and Bake Sale is coming up from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6, at the Community Building. Patrons can get a jump-start on their holiday shopping or stock up on books for winter entertainment, or both.

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