The man who built Smith's Clove Park to retire

| 06 Apr 2017 | 06:46

By Claudia Wysocki
— Paul Truax said he has been having a good ride since 1970.
A working boss who did everything else at his job at Smith’s Clove Park in Monroe, he is retiring at the end of the month.
The park was dedicated in 1965 to the Village of Monroe. At that time, there was only two little fields, a caretaker house, a log cabin used by the Boy Scouts and a pine tree-lined toboggan run.
A park commission was formed to oversee the park. That led to the hiring of Paul Truax on April 1, 1970.
Working with a tractor (which is still working now), a hand mower, riding tractor, shovel and rake, Truax began the transformation of the land donated by Rosco Smith, the founder of Orange & Rockland Utilities, to the 80 acres of developed and undeveloped parklands the community enjoys today.
Where to start?The park commission — today it is the Monroe Joint Parks and Recreation Commission — gave Truax the challenge to create the park.
At first, there was not much there — just three ball fields.
First, the land was cleared, with the woods and brush were dug out later that year to allow the first playground.
Then came areas for racquetball, hockey and basketball.
And then utility poles were installed so the games could play at night.
At the time, though, there was no budgets, just donations from the public and as well as in-kind services from some businesses.
The majority of the work was done in-house by Truax. That included additional fields, buildings, courts, parking lots, bathroom, pavilions, stage and a maintenance facility with equipment.
Truax said he was a one-man show. He did the footings, plumbing, roofing, sheet rocking. Eventually college and high school students worked at the park to help with the park activities.
And as the Monroe community grew, so did the recreational needs.
Through the years, Truax was involved with other events such as the Easter Egg Hunt, tree lighting, Arbor Day, Summer Camp YAC, Turkey Trot and more, according to Joe Mancuso, the current park director.
'A number one priority'And over the years Truax worked closely with the various leagues, getting them their fields and courts. When leagues just wanted to get their games played over the years, Truax had to deal with many commissioners over the years.
“The county owes well wishes and a debt of gratitude to a highly talented and dedicated employee Paul Truax,” Mancuso said, “who made the park a number one priority.”
The recently retired Monroe Village Clerk Virginia Carey offered a similar comment: “Your long record of service to the Monroe’s community is impressive. Thank you for your dedication, hard work and the pride you took with Smith’s Clove Park.”
No other park is maintained like this one, Truax said, because “I’m a stickler for cleanness — I did everything.
“I enjoyed my work,” he added. “It was like my own property.”