2004-09-14 / Front Page
County prisoners see the forest from the trees
Blaze new trails at Middletown
Blaze new trails
Village Green Park
BY KAREN E. BOWES
MIDDLETOWN — Monmouth County jail prisoners cleared trails at Lincroft Village Green Park last week, creating walkways through the heavily wooded park.
“They’ve done dune planting, beach cleanups, painting, gotten Little League fields ready,” Undersheriff Ted Freeman said on Monday. “It’s just a super program.”
The Inmate Labor Program, developed by Sheriff Joseph W. Oxley, is made up of volunteer inmates throughout the county.
Last week the inmates came to Middletown to perform manual labor at the park at no cost to township taxpayers. The inmates, mostly motor vehicle violators, have already performed over 19,000 hours of work for the county, according to a press release issued by the sheriff last week.
“I created this program with only nonviolent prisoners at the end of their sentence to perform these jobs under a correction officer’s supervision,” Oxley said in the release.
To encourage a sense of satisfaction, workers are only assigned projects with a clear beginning, middle and end. Work is done free of charge to taxpayers and lunch is donated by local vendors. In last week’s case, it was provided by Manhattan Bagel and the Lincroft Acme.
Corrections Department Officer Anne Marie Souza said that a break from prison food is a benefit for many of the inmates who enjoy getting out and working in the sun.
“This is an opportunity to open up walking trails for many to use in a beautiful park in the middle of the community, a win-win for all parties,” said Oxley.
The Village Green Park is currently in phase II of an improvement plan developed by the Middletown Parks and Recreation Department.
Phase I included site work and grading, the creation of a small parking lot and a concrete walkway. Phase II, due to begin shortly, will include landscaping, the installation of a flagpole and a plaza area near the entrance of the park. Picnic tables and benches are also needed for the park but will be added based on the success rate of the fund-raising campaign, according to information released by the sheriff’s office.
So far, $50,000 has been raised by volunteers. The township has committed $400,000 to the project based on a state grant.
The Lincroft Village Green Association, in collaboration with Brookdale College, is responsible for preserving the 6 acres that make up the park. For more information on improvements to the park, log onto the Web site at www.lincroftvillagegreeen.org.