ROXBURY, NJ – Closed earlier this month as part of the township’s effort to thwart the spread of COVID-19, the Roxbury Community Garden will re-open tomorrow (May 1) with restrictions.

“As we promised at our last meeting, we have revisited our decision to close the Community Garden which we know provides a much needed outlet for residents as well as a source of fresh produce,” said Roxbury Mayor Bob DeFillippo on Tuesday.

The main restrictions involved in the re-opening of the garden – situated on Eyland Avenue in Succasunna -  involve wearing protective masks and gloves and maintaining safe distance from others, said DeFillippo and Roxbury Councilman Fred Hall. They said no more than five people will be allowed in the garden at once.

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“If somebody is in close distance to you and safe distancing is not possible simply come back later,” Hall said. “Use your own garden tools. Do not share any of the garden tools.”

Hall said the guidelines are subject to change.

“The safety and concern for all residents of Roxbury is our primary concern,” Hall said. “The original garden closure was implemented out of an abundance of caution for all who use this facility.”

Hall stressed that garden members are not required to make use of their allotted plots. “If you feel uncomfortable in any way regarding this year, as a result of the current health situation, please use your own judgement and perhaps consider not gardening until the COVID crisis lessens even further.”

Doing OK, Comparatively

The announcement about the Community Garden was made at the Roxbury Mayor and Council’s second “virtual” meeting. During the session, DeFillippo said there have been 218 cases of COVID-19 in the township and five deaths have been attributed to the virus.

“Roxbury appears to be fairing as well as – if not slightly better – than our neighbors,” he said. “This is a difficult assessment, I know, given the tragic number of confirmed cases and lives lost. But I think it also shows that our community is doing a good job adhering to the social distancing rules.”

Earlier in the day, DeFillippo joined other officials at Horseshoe Lake Park where the Morristown-based non-profit Table of Hope established a “Mobile Food Pantry” where volunteers distributed free food. The food was placed in the trunks of cars.

“Standing in that line, you could not help but be moved watching volunteers place food in the cars as they passed by,” said the mayor. “God bless them. Township staff, our police and Office of Emergency Management did a great job making sure the food distribution went smoothly.”

DeFillippo said Roxbury Social Services continues to need donations, specifically large cans of crushed, purée and whole tomatoes, tomato paste, tissues, diapers for children up to one year old, baby wipes, women’s razors and deodorant, body wash and mouthwash.

Roxbury Social Services, at Horseshoe Lake Park, is open on Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

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