November 20, 2012 - Hudson River Waterfront Walkway Damaged - Can it be repaired? The Hudson River waterfront stretches from the tip of Bayonne 18.5 linear miles to the George Washington Bridge. The owners of the property along that waterfront, such as condo associations, corporations, schools, industrial sites, even local government entities, bear the responsibility to repair the damage to their portion of the waterfront.
Unlike the Jersey Shore where dune replacement costs are borne by the tax payers of the state, the owners of Hudson River waterfront property need to hustle to find government assistance for the big dollars needed to repair and maintain the riverfront after the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy.
Example: Due to Hurricane Sandy, Port Liberte on the Jersey City waterfront has estimated repair costs of $20 million.
A New Era
The HRWC was created in 1988 to assist the NJ DEP in securing the construction of the Hudson River Walkway which is the 30 foot wide path along the river edge dedicated to free, unobstructed use by the general public. Unlike the riverfront pathway on the west side of Manhattan which is built, maintained and funded by the City of New York, the Walkway in New Jersey is constructed and maintained by the owner of the property facing the river. Hurricane Sandy and the now apparent rise of sea levels have brought with them questions as to how that construction can continue to be performed and maintained.
• What type of shoreline construction can secure the shore line in a way that prevents flooding and destruction?
• Should the State require flood proofing of any and all new construction within 1000 feet of the shoreline such as the proposed condo development proposed for the northern shore in North Bergen?
• Who pays for the repairs as the sea levels rise and there are more devastating occurrences such as Sandy?
• Should waterfront construction be limited to maritime uses only as originally understood in the State of New Jersey?
• Should the state initiate a fund to assist property owners along the waterfront who have installed flood control and disaster prevention devices when those measures are overrun by acts of nature?
What HRWC is recommending
- First- Every plan for rebuilding along the shoreline MUST include a formal engineering report noting how flooding and surges will be prevented. No permits should be issued without such proof.
- An office should be created within the DEP specifically to assist property owners, developers, engineering and construction companies that either plan to construct new development or repair damage due to acts of nature. The office should be staffed by experts in engineering and maritime construction. It should be located in the Hudson County area, perhaps in a college or university such as Stevens Institute in Hoboken where scientists and engineers already grapple with waterfront issues.
- The Jersey Shore enjoys the state tax-payer funded dune replacement program. The Hudson River Waterfront, a primary recreational resource used by the general public which has led to the creation of taxpaying residential and commercial developments, needs to also have a way to be helped when major disasters occur. The Office suggested in point two above should also implement the funding plan with assistance from the NJ Department of Treasury.
- Equally important, the 30 foot-wide Hudson River Waterfront Walkway must be installed for new construction and where repair and rehabilitation is to occur. The Walkway has to remain mandatory and should be installed as a protective barrier. Continuous maintenance must be required and secured via easement.
Almost every engineer and scientist who has recently been interviewed on ways to prevent flooding in the future has noted the need to provide public access to the waterfront. No matter whether it is a barrier, a dam, a sea wall, new wetlands, most note the need to give the population the ability to gain admission to the waterfront should be built into repairs and new approaches to prevent flooding.
Sandy has given the State of New Jersey the opportunity to begin the slow and expensive process of securing the Hudson River waterfront area from intensive flooding in the future. We can no longer
Reject or forget the need to rethink, repair and rebuild our waterfront. The time is now.
New York Times, Tuesday, November 20, 2012, Vetoing Business as Usual After the Storm
New York Times, Sunday, November 25, 2012, Rising Seas, Vanishing Coastlines
New York Times, Sunday, November 25, 2012, Paying for Future Catastrophes