• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy
Walk the Walkway
April 26, 2015
Bayonne Golf Course

On a crisp day with bright sunshine, clear skies and temperature in the 60’s, 20 walkers including 4 Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy (HRWC) Board members walked the Walkway along the Bayonne Golf Club. The group gathered at the Southland Shopping Center parking lot adjacent to the Golf Club between 9:00 and 9:30 am.  Walkers came from Morris Plains, Englewood and communities along the Hudson River.  The group was pleased to again this year welcome members of the Bayonne Nature Club who joined us for the walk and provided wonderful insight into the birds and wildlife along the Walkway.

The Walkway at the Bayonne Golf Club is one of the most beautiful sections of the entire Walkway.  In addition to spectacular views of Manhattan and nearby skylines and ports, most of the Walkway borders wetlands where migratory birds and other wildlife are plentiful.

The Walkway at the Bayonne Golf Club is also controversial as the Golf Club has refused to complete the Walkway as required by the NJ statutes.  While the NJ DEP had filed a law suit requiring the Golf Club to complete the Walkway, unfortunately, the DEP has since settled the suit allowing the Walkway to remain unbuilt until the adjacent property, which contains working oil tanks, is eventually developed. The Conservancy disagrees with the settlement.

At 9:30, after a brief description of the work of the Conservancy to support the construction and maintenance of the Walkway, the walkers with Jake on his Dad’s shoulders, started into the Golf Club Walkway.

At the entrance gate, the group paused to note the sign that indicates the Walkway is open from Sunrise to Sunset.  This is in violation of the regulation that requires the Walkway to be open 24/7.  However, the DEP also allowed this closing as part of the Settlement Agreement.  There is also a Twitter site listed on the sign that people can use to find out the exact hours when the Walkway is open.

Moving through the gate, the Walkers passed plaques indicating that the Golf Club and Walkway were built in 2005 on a closed landfill.  The landfill was permanently capped and restored to a beautiful golf course. The plaques also indicated that the cove next to Golf Club was where Henry Hudson moored the Half Moon as he discovered and explored the Hudson River.  One of the group noted that there are many claims along the Hudson River to moorings of the Half Moon.

The group continued along the Walkway stopping frequently to observe views, take photos and talk with the Bayonne Nature Club about the nesting and migratory habits of birds seen in the area.  Further along, the Walkers saw a dead baby harbor seal.  It looked like the carcass was only a week or so old. While the dead seal was a sad sight for the walkers, the return of the seals proves that the harbor area is getting cleaner each year.

Next the walkers stopped to examine the so called fishing pier and kayak launch built by the Golf Club.  The Walkway regulations require construction of fishing piers and kayak launches where feasible and safe along the Walkway.  However, this area of the Walkway is over ¾ of a mile from any parking and is simply a cut in the fence leading to pile of rocks on the shore.  The area is totally impractical for use for either fishing of kayaks.  It is clear this area was chosen to discourage fishermen or kayaks.  It is an example of meeting the regulations to the letter but not in the spirit of what was intended.

Moving on, the group came to the end of the paved Walkway.  There is a floating dock for the Golf Club yacht that is closed to the public.  This also is in violation of the DEP regulations but was allowed in the settlement agreement.  The end of the paved walkway has a sign indicating that the area beyond the gate is “Private Property”.  However the gate was open and the walkers proceeded onto the stone and dirt paths where the Walkway should have been built.

This unpaved path is about a half mile long and includes a helipad, a golf driving range and a garbage dump for the Golf Club.  All of these are in violation of the public’s right to have access to the waterfront that is contained in the Public Trust Doctrine, a legal principle that dates back to the Magna Carta and has been upheld by the courts for several hundred years.  A HRWC Board member pointed out that the helipad was constructed using steel sheet piling to provide the needed support during storms.  Most of the rest of the Walkway is supported by stone riprap that is undermined and washed away by the wave actions, especially in storms.

It was obvious to the walkers that the Golf Club is using the waterfront in this area for their own financial gain while violating the public’s right to have unlimited access to the waterfront.

As the group proceeded along the paths, the Golf Club security personnel arrived in golf carts to inform the group that they were not allowed on the paths.  After a short, unheated, debate about private versus public rights to the waterfront, the security personnel allowed the group to complete the walk with no incident.

The guided walk ended at the adjacent oil tanks with a brief discussion among the group of what was seen and the issues raised by the actions of the Golf Club. The walkers then returned to the parking lot at their own pace by noon.

Overall, the Walkway at the Bayonne Golf Club is in good condition with the significant damage from Hurricane Sandy having been repaired.  There is some evidence of erosion where the Walkway is supported by riprap and continued patching and replacement of the blacktop will be required.  The lights, benches and trash cans were in good shape and being properly serviced by the Golf Club.

The next Walk the Walkway will be on May 17th in North Bergen, Guttenburg and West New York.

Pictures of walk: album1 (courtesy of Dan Chall), album2 (courtesy of Harvey Morginstin)


Search our site