May 20, 2018
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Navy returning 591-acre ‘green space’ to Brunswick, but it needs a name

By JT Leonard, Times Record Staff

BRUNSWICK — The U.S. Navy is about to return 591 acres of land to the town for preservation and recreation, and that green space is going to need a name.

A team of students in Brunswick High School’s service learning program has researched three names for the impending preserve, and now they want help from the public to choose a winner. Each of the potential names is drawn from a significant figure in Brunswick’s history.

Ranked in the students’ order of priority, the names include:

• Kate Furbish Preserve, named for lifelong Brunswick resident and biologist Catherine “Kate” Furbish, whose work identifying, categorizing and depicting native Maine flora gained her national recognition. Furbish’s work remains housed in Bowdoin College’s special collections since her death in 1931.

• Woodward Preserve, in honor of one of the town’s settling pioneer families. Homesteads of the Woodward family lined what eventually became Maquoit Bay to the New Meadows River, and they served in local militias during the Indian Wars, American Revolution and the War of 1812.

• Thomas Purchase Preserve, named for the first permanent European settler to establish residency in the area known then as Pejepscot and, later, Brunswick. Purchase established relations with both Native Americans and his contemporaries, Massachusetts Bay Colony founder John Winthrop and Plymouth Plantation governor William Bradford.

An email address is being set up at the Parks and Recreation Department page of the town’s website,, to take public comment on the name choices and to suggest alternatives.

The nearly 600-acre tract has not been available for public use for more than 70 years, and the town has big plans for its return.

“It’s the largest, most contiguous piece of land the town has,” said town business development manager Denise Clavette.

Eventually, an internal trail network is planned throughout the piece, incorporating some existing paths and abandoned roadways.

“We have been comparing current Google Earth maps to maps from earlier time periods, mainly the 1800s. We find buildings on the old maps, then compare them with the current maps to figure out where those structures would be today, if they were still standing,” junior Evelyn Atwood wrote in an email to The Times Record.

“Our hope is to go out to the site to search for evidence of these structures … although we students have not [yet] been allowed on-site.”

Permitted uses, as well as management and conveyance details, are still being discussed by the town’s Recreation, Trails and Open Space Committee. The town will continue to do site work and field evaluation on the tract, and a public meeting will be scheduled for late February or early March.

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