Skip to content

A town square for an unsquare town

redbankgreen

Standing for the vitality of Red Bank, its community, and the fun we have together.

RUMSON: OXFORD HOUSE REACHES OUT

61-so-ward-rumson-101413-500x375-7983725“Not the best mix” of residents formed the initial population at the Oxford House when it opened in Rumson in August, a facility official told neighbors Tuesday night. One of the residents died of a drug overdose. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_02-220x137-6360205The addiction-recovery residence that popped up unannounced in a quiet Rumson neighborhood this summer “did not get off to a good start,” an official with the organization that sponsors the facility told residents Tuesday night.

“We haven’t been good neighbors,” said George Kent, a regional manager with Oxford House, “and I take full responsibility for that.”

Standing at a lectern in the nave of St. George’s by the River Episcopal Church just a block from the Oxford House on South Ward Avenue, Kent fielded sometimes hostile questions from about 40 residents of the West Park neighborhood, hoping to establish a dialogue in the aftermath of a drug overdose death at the house.

The house functions as a clearinghouse for recovering drug and alcohol addicts, but that use was unknown to neighbors before a 25-year-old resident died of a drug overdose on October 13. Its presence became a flashpoint, prompting angry neighbors to pack a borough council meeting and demand official action.

Tuesday night, residents peppered Kent with questions about the signature on the lease for the house, relapse rates among residents, overnight-guest policies and more. One neighbor referred repeatedly to the home’s residents as “junkies,” while another badgered Kent with pointed questions, at one point demanding that he use the name of the deceased resident instead of referring to him as the victim.

“Passions are running a little high,” said neighborhood resident Jim Sylvester, who moderated the 90-minute discussion.

The death of the Holmdel man “definitely rocked the house,” Kent said, and the first group to occupy it “was not the best mix of gentlemen,” he said.

But current residents “are on their best behavior,” he said.

Kent said Oxford House, a Maryland-based addiction-treatment facility with hundreds of homes across the country, including about 20 in Monmouth County, had assigned a paid staffer to live in the Rumson facility, which has nine beds and is currently home to six recovering alcohol and drug addicts.

Having outreach coordinator Mike LaVecchia in the house “is part of the solution,” he said.

Several neighbors pressed Kent on whether Oxford House would agree to having candidates for residence in the house submit to criminal background checks, with the results available only to police Chief Scott Paterson. Citing the organization’s own literature, they said some 70 percent of new residents have done jail time.

LaVecchia said that includes men who have spent as little as a night in jail for drunk-driving arrests.

“In this town, you can’t coach basketball” without undergoing a criminal records check, said Sylvester, an attorney. “Why is it not reasonable to conduct a criminal background check” of prospective residents?

“We don’t do agency-style background checks,” Kent said. Oxford instead instead relies on pre-admission interviews and post-admission observation to guard against harboring drug dealers and other criminals. But he pledged to take the suggestion to his superiors as early as Wednesday.

Afterward, several residents thanked Kent for appearing. But acrimony lingered, too. One woman accused Kent of having lied a the outset of the Q&A when he said he didn’t know who had signed the lease: he later said he did know, but was prevented by privacy policies from disclosing the name. He apologized to her for lying.

The way Oxford moved in, without talking to neighbors or town officials, was “sneaky,” another woman said during the event. “This is what has upset the neighbors.”

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
RIVER RANGERS RETURN
River Rangers, a summer canoeing program offered by the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association, returns this summer for up to 20 participa ...
DOUBLE DYLAN IN RED BANK
Trucks for a production company filming what one worker said was a Bob Dylan biography have lined Monmouth Street the past two days with cre ...
AFTER THE RAIN
A pear tree branch brought down by a brief overnight storm left a lovely tableau on the sidewalk in front of Red Bank's Riverside Gardens Pa ...
CONE OF UNCERTAINTY
Asked by a redbankgreen reporter why these cones were on top of cars, the owner of the car in the foreground responded: “That’s ...
RAIL RIDER’S VIEW
A commuter's view of Cooper's Bridge and the Navesink River from North Jersey Coast Line train 3320 out of Red Bank Tuesday morning.
PUT ME IN COACH!
Red Bank T-Ball kicked off at East Side park on Saturday morning. The brisk weather proved to be no deterrent to the young players, ranging ...
IT’S A SIGN!
Once proudly declaring its all-but-certain arrival in Spring 2019, the project previously known as Azalea Gardens springs to life again with ...
SPRINGTIME MEMORIES OF CARL
The Easter Bunny getup and St. Patrick’s Day hat that belonged to longtime Red Bank crossing guard and neighborhood smile-creator Carl ...
RED TRUCKS AT RED ROCK
A small dishwasher fire at Red Rock Tap and Grill was put out quickly by firefighters overnight, causing minimal damage. Red Bank Fire Depar ...
CREATIVE COVER UP
The windows of Pearl Street Consignment on Monmouth Street were smashed when a driver crashed their car through them injuring an employee la ...
THEY’RE BACK!
Ospreys returned to the skies over Red Bank this week for the first time since they migrated to warmer climes in late fall. With temperature ...
SPRING IS SPRUNG
RED BANK: Spring 2024 arrives on the Greater Red Bank Green with the vernal equinox at 11:06 p.m. Tuesday.
RED BANK’S FINEST – AND NEWEST
Red Bank Police Officer Eliot Ramos was sworn in as the force’s newest patrolman Thursday, and if you’re doing a double take thinkin ...
EASTER EGG MAYHEM AT THE PARK
An errant whistle spurred an unexpectedly early start to the Spring Egg Hunt on Sunday, which had been scheduled to begin at eggsactly 11am ...
PRESEASON DOCKWORK
RED BANK: With winter winding down, marina gets ready for boating season with some dockwork on our beautiful Navesink River.
CORNED BEEF AND DISCO FRIES?
It’s Friday, and smart Lent-observing Leprechauns know the pot of gold at the end of Red Bank’s rainbow is actually the deliciou ...
SURFBOARD DITCHED
It’s a violation of etiquette in surfing to ditch your board.  (it could hit another surfer and hurt them). But someone appears to ha ...
ELSIE, TAKE ME WITH YOU!
Soaked by pouring rain with the temperature hovering in the low 40’s, this sign in the window of Elsie’s Subs on Monmouth Street ...
WALK THIS WAY
PARTYLINE: Before-and-afters of a sidewalk cleanup on West Street.
SOGGY NOTION
RED BANK: Breezeway sculpture captured the mood downtown as heavy rains fell Saturday morning.