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: APPARENT OD SPARKS LEGAL ACTION

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_02-7357499Rumson officials have launched an effort to evict the residents of an addiction-recovery house following what Mayor John Ekdahl called an apparent drug overdose there early Tuesday morning.

Ekdahl said the town filed suit in Superior Court in Freehold Tuesday afternoon asking for an order that Oxford House residents, at 61 South Ward Avenue, clear out immediately, and that Oxford be barred from using it as a home for drug addicts and alcoholics.

The action follows the overdose death of an Oxford House resident on October 13 and a medical emergency involving another resident shortly before dawn on Tuesday.

Police Chief Scott Paterson said Tuesday that he had no detailed information on the nature of the emergency, other than that a person in the house had been reported unresponsive at around 5:30 a.m., and that, “when the person left, he was alive and being treated by paramedics.”

Ekdahl, however, said paramedics found the victim “unconscious and showing signs of I guess you would say an overdose – rigid and shaking.” He said the male victim, who has not been publicly identified, was given an immediate injection of Narcan, a drug used to counter the effects of opiates, and was hospitalized. Ekdahl said he did not know where, or the victim’s current condition.

Except in the case of a death, no toxicology or other health information would be available to the borough, he said.

George Kent, Oxford House manager for the region that includes Rumson, told redbankgreen Wednesday he could not comment on the Ekdahl’s characterization of the incident as an apparent overdose because he did not have full information on what happened.

“I don’t know enough to comment on it,” he said. “The police know more about it than I do.”

Ekdahl said he learned from Paterson, who happened to be at his desk when the emergency call went out and responded to the scene along with paramedics, that there was a woman present in the house, and that no Oxford supervisory personnel were there.

The apparent absence of the proctor, Michael LaVecchia was an issue that borough officials believe gives the town legal standing to sue for eviction, Ekdahl said. Though Oxford Houses for male addicts do not require the presence of a proctor, officials of the nonprofit organization that sponsors the house had agreed with town officials that LaVecchia would reside there, “in their words, ‘until things calmed down,'” at the house, Ekdahl said.

Three weeks ago, in a presentation to West Park neighbors held at a church a block away from the house, Kent reiterated that LaVecchia, an Oxford House outreach coordinator, would live there.

Kent said Wednesday he could not comment on whether LaVecchia was present Tuesday.

The woman seen by Paterson had apparently stayed overnight, contrary to Oxford House’s own rules, which require that guests leave the premises by midnight, Ekdahl said.

LaVecchia’s alleged absence, and the presence of the overnight guest spurred the borough to take legal action, something neighbors have been demanding since the October 13 fatality. Within hours of the incident, borough attorney Marty Barger filed papers in Superior Court in Freehold asking for an order to bar the house from being used by Oxford House, a nonprofit organization that operates recovery houses in some 40 states. The town also asked for a temporary injunction calling for the house to be vacated immediately.

Neither request, however, is expected to get a hearing before the New Year, Ekdahl said. The matter was assigned to Judge Patricia Cleary.

Citing reports of a heroin epidemic in Ocean County – where more than 100 heroin deaths have been reported this year, twice as many as in 2012 – and warnings that the epidemic is spreading, Ekdahl said he sees Oxford House as pursuing “a noble mission.”

But the organization began as a treatment option for alcoholism, and is now facing a drug scourge in which patients relapse into addiction at a rate of four or five times that of alcoholics, Ekdahl said.

With ever cheaper and more potent heroin, “a neighborhood full of kids – I don’t think that’s the right environment” for a treatment residence, he said.

Jim Sylvester, a spokesman for the West Park neighbors, could not be reached for immediate comment.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
COFFEE & WILDLIFE
RED BANK: The best wildlife show in town can be taken in from a waterfront bench outside the public library, and it's totally free.
FAWNING OVER HER BABY
A mother deer and her fawn were spotted between a row of garages on Hudson Avenue and some trees alongside the Broad Street parking lots. Re ...
EVENING ESCAPE
RED BANK: Sailors in Monmouth Boat Club's weekly racing series found tranquil conditions on the Navesink River Tuesday evening.
PEAK COLOR ON BROAD
RED BANK: A year after they were installed, downtown mini gardens have added to "transformational" improvements, says business owner.
RED BANK: FAIRIES MOVE IN ON WHITE STREET
Red Bank: Girl scouts turns tiny parking lot plot of dirt into a "magical girls sparkle garden."
TRAINING UNDER FIRE
RED BANK: Volunteer firefighters train to cut into pitched roofs under active fire conditions.
“SUPERMOM” WANTS YOUR VOTE
Business owner. Dyed in the wool, lifelong Red Banker. Mother of six. Yup, seems like Anita Pierce does it all. In other words, she’s ...
SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS
RED BANK: Town prepares for Saturday's Pride in the Park celebration with another lawn art design by public works supervisor and Fire Chief ...
MOVIES VIA LIBRARY
RED BANK: Public Library now offers members access to streaming movies via Kanopy, with some 30,000 titles and tons of content for kids.
NEW RAINBOW CROSSWALK ON BROWN PLACE
Kicking off pride month, some Brown Place and Spring Street residents, ages 5 to 11, constructed a rainbow crosswalk with chalk over the wee ...
WHAT TO WEAR?
RED BANK: Dressmakers' mannequins appeared to mull what to wear as they looked down on Monmouth Street last week.
SYMPHONY RETURNS JUNE 29
RED BANK: An annual crowd pleaser returns June 29 with a free concert in Marine Park by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, RiverCenter said ...
Heard on the Green
Heard on the Green
DUCK RESCUE EFFORT
Duckling rescue attempt underway in sewer at East Front and Broad, 10:29 a.m.
HOUSING CRUNCH
Demolition begins for new apartments at Globe Court and Mechanic Street.
FEELING SNAPPY
      Snapping Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs this time of year and are a common site along the Swimming River waterfr ...
TUB TIME
RED BANK: A sparrow waits for the next available dirt tub while two others take their Sunday baths. (Click for video.)
CHECK IT OUT
A bench outside the Red Bank Public Library provided a serene view of our beautiful Navesink River Monday evening.
WAYWARD SLIM JIM
Anybody lose a Slim Jim? A “Sweet Mild O’ Mine” flavor Slim Jim was seen left unattended on this mailbox on Mechanic Stree ...
YAPPY TOGETHER
RED BANK: Look for this cutie pie, named Sacramento, at Yappy Hour on Broadwalk Saturday. He's looking for a new home.