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Walk the Walkway

June 8, 2014

Northern Edgewater

On a top ten day of the year with bright sunshine and clear skies, 13 walkers including 2 HRWC Board members, 1 Honorary Board member, and some very experienced HRWC walkers walked and “explored” the northern half of the waterfront in Edgewater.  The Walkway in this area is only partly developed and the walk included some “exploration” of future Walkway development. The group gathered at 9:00 AM and after a few brief comments about the Conservancy by Helen Manogue, President of the Conservancy and a description of today’s walk by Don, the group gathered their water and sunblock and headed to the Walkway at 9:30am.

This entrance to the Walkway is at the border of the Whole Food property and the Grand Cove condominiums.  As was the case three weeks ago, the Walkway that was destroyed by Super Storm Sandy in front of Grand Cove is still under repair.  However, it seems that the Walkway is open in front of the condos but not open to the public.  The Conservancy will pursue this with the condominium management and, if necessary, the NJDEP.

Throughout the walk we saw and spoke with many walkers, bikers, dog owners and parents with children, all very appreciative of the Walkway and enjoying it to the fullest.  Walking north from Grand Cove, the Walkway at the Whole Foods property is very old but is maintained in good shape. It is very actively used and the garbage containers were overflowing.  This will be reported to the property owners.  Next came the Mariner’s Landing apartments where the Walkway is in good shape and has been well designed with proper widths and buffer areas.  The only issue here is the rip rap shore line. There is some evidence of wear and wash out and, I expect it will worsen if it is not addressed by maintenance.

Next came the Edgewater Marina a wonderful example of turning a declining property into a real asset for Edgewater citizens.  This marina and park was once a failing private marina.  It was purchased and refurbished by the town of Edgewater and is now a public ferry commuter stop during rush hours for New York Waterways as well as a place for concerts, sports events and boat docking.

The next two properties are older condominiums that were built before 1984 when the legislation requiring a public walkway was passed.  These properties are grandfathered from building a section of the Walkway unless they try to develop the waterfront.

Next the hearty group ventured across the Edgewater Veterans Park which is under reconstruction due to soil contamination.  Construction has ceased for over a year as the contractor and the town is in litigation for dumping of contaminated fill into the land being decontaminated.  The Walkway is complete in the park but it is not officially open to the public.  We ventured into the park anyway and after some rough terrain, the group made it safely to the Walkway.

The Walkway in Edgewater continues past a series of old and newer condominiums..  The older condos, Shelter Bay, are being totally reconstructed on the outside as it looks like the wood siding and shingles are being replaced.  Many of the oldest properties along the Walkway were unfortunately built with wood exteriors.  These now have failed after many years due to salt water exposure and many storms.  After Shelter Bay we proceeded to Hudson Cove which is only 10 years old and is built with brick exterior as is now common along the waterfront.  We were pleased to discover that the overgrown forsythia that had previously blocked the views of walkers on the Walkway had been cut down and the view restored.  The group speculated that the plants may have become damaged in Sandy.

The group paused at Hudson Cove to talk about the adjacent property where the Walkway has not been built.  This property is in litigation between the developer and the NJDEP.  The developer has illegally filled in the waterfront to provide sufficient land to construct condominiums.  This is a violation of Federal and State law.  The litigation has been proceeding for many years and it is undetermined when a Walkway will be built on the property.

At this point, August and Anita, two of our most dedicated walkers from many walks, left the group to return home.  We will miss them on our next walk on June 29, but we wish them well as they travel to London to see their children.  We expect to see them again in September.

The group then examined the Walkway at a distance at the Moorings condominiums and the Von Dohln marina by standing on River Road as the terrain slopes severely down to the Waterfront. Both Moorings and Von Dohln have constructed or delineated their portion of the Walkway but they are not connected to any other properties so they are only used by the Moorings residents.

To the north of the Von Dohln marina , which is closed since its’ docks were destroyed in Sandy, is Vela condominiums.  This very high end condominium has constructed their portion of the Walkway but as the group proceeded down the hill to the Walkway there was yellow caution tape blocking access to the Walkway.  Proceeding past the tape, the group encountered no reason that the Walkway should be closed.  We expect that the residents do not want the public to use the Walkway since it does not lead to any other properties and the Walkway is directly next to the condos’ private swimming pool.  This conflict between the public’s right to access to the waterfront and individuals desire for privacy is a conflict the Conservancy faces in many areas of the Walkway. We will ask the management of Vela to keep the Walkway open as required by the NJDEP.

Finally, tired but enthusiastic, the group climbed River Road past some older developments and entered the Colony at Annette Ave.  The Colony is a large piece of land that was once the location of “fishing shacks” for New York City residents.  It was originally built near the beginning of the 20th century and has vista views of the Hudson and Manhattan that are unbelievably beautiful.  The Colony is a private co-op community but is part of Edgewater.  Residents of the Colony, as a private community, resist allowing transient auto or pedestrian traffic. Today’s “fishing shacks” are multi-million dollar McMansions built on the cliffs overlooking the river.

The NJDEP and the Colony reached a settlement agreement years ago to delineate certain streets within the Colony as the Walkway.  As we entered the Colony, we noticed that the Walkway sign at the entrance from River Road had been removed.  We will pursue having it replaced as soon as possible.

The group walked down Annette Ave noting that the Colony’s Community Center is being completely renovated. We continued to the South end of the Colony where there is a small sitting area on the Waterfront that is supposed to be open to the public.  While it was open the last time we walked here, it is now gated and locked with a “Colony residents only” sign.  We believe this is in violation of both NJ and Edgewater regulations. We will discuss this with both governing bodies.

After discussions about possible future construction routes for the southern end of the Walkway within the Colony, viewing some of the unbelievable big waterfront homes, passing the previous home of Geraldo Rivera and talking about the illegal docks that some members of the Colony have constructed, the group ended the walk at Palisades Interstate Park at 11:30.

From here, Tim, a veteran walker from Morristown, NJ, continued on into Palisades Park while Laurie, a first time walker, headed up the stone steps to the GW Bridge.  The remaining group rested for a minute and then headed back down River Road to Whole Foods arriving back at noon.

It was great to walk with Tim, Smiljana, August, Anita, Loretta, Amy and Dan, all who have walked with us on many of the Walk the Walkways over the past three years.  A special thanks to Peter, our honorary HRWC Board member and an Edgewater resident, for his insight, knowledge and commentary as we walked through the town.

Photo album of this walk courtesy of Dan Chall.

Join us on June 29th when we will meet at Exchange Place and Walk the Walkway in downtown Jersey City.


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