By JOHN T. WARD
Nestled in a quiet Rumson neighborhood still recovering from floodwaters that tore through a year ago, the grey house at the corner of South Ward and Washington avenues stands out, towering over its neighbors.
It also stands out as the subject of complaints to the police.
“They party all the time,” a neighbor who asked not to be identified said of the home’s occupants. “They are up all night. Partying on the front porch. Running through the neighborhood.”
Sunday evening, though, the police were at the house for another reason: looking into the death of one of its residents from a purported drug overdose.
To the surprise of many in this affluent community, the house turns be a drug- and alcohol-rehab residence.
Police aren’t talking about what happened. On Monday, Chief Scott Paterson said the victim’s next-of-kin had not yet been notified of the death, and that several days might pass before he was in a position to say anything about the investigation. On Tuesday morning, he said he still couldn’t release the victim’s identity.
Nor are people affiliated with Oxford House, a Maryland-based addiction-treatment facility, willing to speak about the death.
“Now is not a good time to talk,” one of two young men who answered the door of the house politely told redbankgreen Monday afternoon.
Neighbors say that on August 1, the house became one of about 1,000 residential addiction recovery centers in the Oxford network. Previously the house had been rented for some time to a family, they said.
George Kent, the Oxford manager for the region that includes Rumson, declined to discuss the death, citing privacy issues.
He told redbankgreen that Monmouth County has about 20 Oxford houses, among 105 statewide.
“There’s been an epidemic in New Jersey of people overdosing,” he said Tuesday. “We’re trying to do something about that.”
On its website, Oxford lists the house, at 61 South Ward, as a residence for up to nine males in rehab. Oxford bills its homes as “democratically run, self-supporting, addiction recovery” residences.
Elsewhere, the organization describes itself as:
a network of self-run, self-supported recovery houses for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. Each Oxford House is autonomous and holds a weekly democratic house meeting to assure the smooth operation and financial viability of the house. On a monthly basis, the houses in a geographic area get together to share their common experiences in order to assure that all Oxford Houses operate in a way that preserves the good name of Oxford House and encourages more experienced houses to help newer ones.
Kent said there is no centralized supervision of the houses, and instead that the residents of nearby Oxford houses within a chapter lend support to one another so that “one house doesn’t go astray for any reason.
“There is some outside support,” he said.
Mayor John Ekdahl said police have received complaints from neighbors, mostly about parking and noise.
The town has an ordinance prohibiting boarding houses, but “I don’t know if this qualifies,” he said.
Kent said boarding house laws don’t apply.
The house has been owned for the past year by Triplets Realty LLC, with a mailing address at 16A Bellevue Avenue, according to county tax records. The owners of 16A Bellevue are listed as Gina and Charles Farkouh – a real estate agent and homebuilder, respectively. Calls for comment to the Farkouhs were not returned.
Neighbors met to discuss the situation Monday night, but declined a request by a reporter to attend.
One who attended, though, said she had no objection to the residential rehab center.
“It’s that it’s self-run,” she said.