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Walk the Walkway

Bayonne - Bayonne Golf Club – April 27, 2014

On a sunny, cool and blustery day, 12 Walkers including Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy (HRWC) Board members and walker friends returning from previous years, gathered at South Cove Mall in Bayonne for the annual examination of the partially completed Walkway at the Bayonne Golf Club.  HRWC was pleased to welcome leaders of the Bayonne Nature Club to join us for our initial Walk the Walkway walk of 2014.

After a brief introduction by the HRWC Board members to the entire Waterfront Walkway and the role of the Conservancy in supporting the NJ DEP, and a description of the activities and programs of the Bayonne Nature Club, the group, with Blu, the brown labrador retriever in tow, began walking at 9:45.

The entrance to the Walkway at the Golf Club has changed since last year’s walk with a new sign on the entrance gate announcing that the Walkway is only open from Sunrise to Sunset.  This is in contradiction tot the Walkway Rules and Regulations but is another unfortunate part of the Settlement Agreement between the NJ DEP and the Golf Club.  The sign also directs walkers to a Twitter account @BGCPubWalkway for a listing of the hours when the Walkway will be open each day. We were told by the Nature Club that the Twitter account was set up by the Golf Club after many complaints from citizens who arrived at the Walkway when it was closed.

As we proceeded, into the Golf Club, the Walkway was generally in good repair with benches and lights functioning and much of the graffiti from previous years removed. Trash cans were well maintained indicating an ongoing maintenance program is in place. However, as was the case last year, there is evidence of undermining of the blacktop surface along some of the water’s edge.  As in other places along the entire Waterfront, the supporting riprap embankment provides insufficient protection to prevent continual erosion from even normal storms.

Due to the chilly weather, there were only a few people using the Walkway and there were no fishermen this year.  However, there were a multitude of birds and fowl in the water and the air and the Nature Club provided a wonderful educational session to all of us identifying the birds and describing their behaviors.

About ¾ of a mile along the Walkway, we passed the ridiculous rock outcropping that has been labelled as a Kayak Launch and Fishing Pier by the Golf Club.  Due to the distant location of this area from the parking lot and the poor and dangerous condition of the rocky area, I expect this “Kayak Launch and Fishing Pier” has never been used and probably won’t be in the future.  It is a terrific example of the Golf Club meeting the letter of the DEP regulation in a totally non-functional manner and depriving the public of the intended facilities that go with the Walkway.

Along the way, the Walkers found two broken light posts that were lying on the ground. At first look it seemed like vandalism but closer observation by a Board member noted that there were recent tire tracks in the mud near the lights and they probably were destroyed by some kind of vehicle. Why or how this happened is anyone’s guess maybe alcohol or ice.

After a stop to take pictures of the vista view of lower New York Harbor, the group arrived at the end of the paved Walkway.  The Golf Club ferry dock was in place and the viewing pavilion was open to the public contrary to previous years.  A new sign in the middle of the Walkway announced that this was the end of the public Walkway and beyond the sign is Private Property.  Just beyond the sign is the illegal helipad built by the Golf Club several years ago. The Nature Club said that the helipad is no longer in use and we noted the directional windsock has been removed.

In spite of the sign, the Walkers continued into the Golf Club along the Walkway path for another ½ mile where the gravel path meets the adjacent tank farm property.  No one from the Golf Club met us or objected to our presence. This half mile of gravel path is what should be completed Walkway but is part of the  Settlement between the NJ DEP and the Golf Club that allows the Golf Club to defer the completion of the Walkway until the adjacent tank farm is removed.  This Walkway area provides one of the most magnificent views of the New York Harbor with parts of the Jersey City, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island skylines in view.  Unfortunately, most of the public will not have this experience as the posted sign will cause most people to turn back.   Instead, the Golf Club uses this area for a driving range and a garbage dump.

After some additional picture taking, and friendly goodbyes, the Walkers returned to the starting point with only brief stops for Blu to “take a swim” and to watch a gull enjoying a fish and a loon diving for breakfast. The walk ended at 11:45.

As in prior year’s, the walk at Bayonne Golf Club reminds us of the wonderful achievement and benefit that the Walkway has become to the public, but also the continued struggle to have the owners of waterfront properties, like the Bayonne Golf Club, meet their responsibilities to the citizens at large to provide open access to the Waterfront.

The next Walk the Walkway walk will be on May 11th when we will walk and explore the partially completed Walkway in the southern half of Edgewater.

View Flickr album of walk.


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