Task force to ensure continued preservation of New Jersey Training School site in Monroe

MONROE — Monroe officials want to make sure the New Jersey Training School for Boys at Jamesburg site will be preserved as open space.

“It is imperative that the State of New Jersey understand that Monroe’s highest priority is for the 663-acre campus to remain as preserved farmland and open space, consistent with our rural character,” Mayor Gerald W. Tamburro said in a prepared statement. “I will fight to make certain this land can never be developed.”

The Monroe Township Council will consider an ordinance on a creation of a task force for the future of the site, whose closure was announced in January, at a council meeting on March 5.

Tamburro said the task force will be charged with formulating a long-term plan with residents, state, county and local officials to ensure the continued preservation of the site on Grace Hill Road. The task force will also work to make sure that when existing buildings are decommissioned, any future use will benefit the residents of Monroe and Middlesex County.

The campus is located between Spotswood Englishtown and Spotswood Gravel Hill roads and is currently preserved farmland, wooded forests, flood plains and wetlands.

The buildings are clustered together on the western portion of the property and accessible from the main gate near Grace Hill Road.

Tamburro also sent a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy soliciting his support for the township’s position.

In June 2017, more than 50 organizations gathered outside the New Jersey Training School for Boys, calling for its closure, stating 150 years of youth incarceration is enough. Roughly seven months later, then-Gov. Chris Christie heeded the call.

On Jan. 8, Christie announced $162 million in bond financing to fund the closure of the New Jersey Training School for Boys; as well as its associated girls prison, the Female Secure Care and Intake Facility, known as Hayes, in Bordentown.

Two much smaller state-of-the-art juvenile rehabilitation centers are planned in Ewing and Winslow Township. Each will hold between 40 and 72 residents.

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