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Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy

Walk the Walkway

May 6, 2017

Southern Liberty State Park/Liberty National Golf Club/Port Liberté

On a breezy, cloudy day, 15 walkers including 3 HRWC Board members, a multi-generational family, a historian from Jersey City and several first time walkers gathered at the Liberty State Park picnic grove to Walk the Walkway at the southern end of Liberty State Park (LSP) including Liberty National Golf Club, the LSP bird sanctuary and the Port Liberté Condominiums. Walkers came from Hunterdon County, New York City and the communities along the Hudson River.

After brief introductions, an outline of today’s walk, and a short discussion of the role of the Conservancy in supporting the development and maintenance of the Walkway, the group headed out at 9:35 beginning on one of the oldest sections of the Walkway. This area was constructed before 1985 when the Walkway legislation was passed in Trenton and, in some ways, was the genesis of the modern Walkway. While old and in disrepair, this Walkway section had trash containers, benches and was originally lit at night although the lighting here seemed no longer operational. The Walkway surface was blacktop paving and the waterline had only a rip-rap bulkhead which was washed away at places.  The modern Guidelines have replaced these conditions with sheet pile bulkheads, pavers instead of blacktop, modern day trash receptacles, benches and lighting. The Conservancy is working with the DEP and other organizations to replace old rip-rap with sheet piling bulkheads to avoid the washouts and Walkway collapses that occur frequently.

The group stopped to look at the waterfront view where, in addition to Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, the Verrazano Bridge, the cranes for the Global Marine shipping port, the new Army Corps of engineer buildings with modern windmills on the roof and the scrap metal export port in southern Jersey City can all be seen. We were reminded by a walker that the adjacent bay is the site of the infamous Black Tom explosion. The walkers also discussed the massive development proposed last year adjacent to the Liberty National Golf Club by the owners of the Golf Club. If built, the development would have included a 90 story condominium/hotel and a casino. The group agreed this area is not right for such a massive development.

The blacktop Walkway passes several abandoned jetties that are now used by fisherman and sun bathers (on warmer days!).  One of these jetties has a crude natural ramp into the water that is used by kayakers who bring their kayaks on their car rooftops.  There are several parking spots reserved for rooftop boat transporters.

The next section of Walkway in LSP is one of the newest sections of the Walkway.  It was built several years ago by the State of NJ after the old Walkway collapsed into the harbor.  This new section is fully compliant with Walkway guidelines and, as a result, did not suffer any damage from Super Storm Sandy. It is expected that someday the old section will be replaced by a modern new Walkway. At the south end of the LSP Walkway is a wooden seating and fishing area and an overlook that had been destroyed by Sandy.  It had been rebuilt and again offers a quiet place to sit, fish, and enjoy the harbor.

The LSP boat ramp launch was the next Walkway section.  This area has reserved parking for vehicles with boat trailers and a ramp to enable boats to enter the harbor.  The Golf Club wants to build a private yacht marina next to the boat ramp but there is inadequate space for a marina unless the boat ramp is moved to another place in LSP.

After the boat ramp, the Walkway leaves LSP and enters the Liberty National Golf Club.  The Walkway in front of the golf club is an excellent example of a private developer (Fireman Brothers) working with the Conservancy and the DEP to integrate the public Walkway into the private golfing facilities in a manner that provides protection and full access to the waterfront for walkers without interfering or compromising the functions of the golf club. Even the signage shows the Walkway logo integrated with the Golf Club logo. Unfortunately, this kind of cooperation was not the case at the Bayonne Golf Club when it was constructed.  A super modern glass club house and several apartments adjoin the Walkway for use by Golf Club members. The Walkway was somewhat overgrown and had yet to be serviced after the winter.  However, the rose bushes along the Walkway were thriving and will be beautiful in June/July.

The Golf Club adjoins a section of LSP that is reserved as a bird sanctuary. The sanctuary is closed to the public from March to the end of September but there were many species of birds and ducks visible to the group. In the middle of the bird sanctuary, there is a small stream where one member of the group speculated about the source of the stream as it comes from somewhere in Jersey City. Passing the sanctuary, the group took a small detour to view the harbor from one of the golf tees.  It has to be the most spectacular golf tee in America.

The group continued into the Port Liberté condominiums which were designed to replicate a town in Holland with canals built within the condos. It was good to see that barricades previously used to illegally close the Walkway to bicycles had been removed after an enforcement action by the NJDEP.  A major portion of the Walkway in Port Liberté was totally destroyed by Sandy.  Port Liberté has completely rebuilt the Walkway using sheet pilings for bulkheads, rather than rip-rap, and should withstand another storm like Sandy in the future. The Port Liberté Walkway goes past the condominium swimming pool which is on the edge of the waterfront and has a magnificent view of New York Harbor. It has to be the nicest pool in NJ. The Walkway continues through Port Liberte’ where the group chatted with some fishermen who were cleaning their boat and equipment after a day of fishing. When asked how far they went into the Atlantic, the answer was about 10 minutes, surprising some in the group. The Walkway exits Port Liberté at the southernmost side of the condominium on to Chapel Avenue.

The group then proceeded down Chapel Avenue and past the Army Corps of Engineers/US Coast Guard station.  The station is under reconstruction from Sandy and is supposed to reopen in July.  The group got a close up look at the modern windmill system on the roof of the building.  It sure doesn’t look like the windmills you see in travel brochures.  At the end of the road is Caven Point, an overlook for viewing New York Harbor that is part of the Walkway system.  The view of the harbor is so splendid that the NJDEP required the developer of Port Liberte’ to save Caven Point for the public by building the overlook.

Next to Caven Point is an abandoned building that, before Sandy, was an upscale restaurant and the clubhouse for Port Liberté.  The building has never been rebuilt and will have to be demolished soon as it is deteriorated.  It surely will be replaced with a new high end restaurant at Caven Point someday.

The walk ended at Caven Point and the group dispersed to find their way back to the starting point at their own pace. After a pit stop, a few brave walkers continued to a hole in the border fence along Chapel Avenue to explore some sand beaches where, someday, another section of the Walkway will continue south into Bayonne.

Some walkers inquired about the derivation of the word “riprap”.  Try LakeShoreGuys in Minnesota www.lakeshoreguys.com/why-is-riprap-called-riprap/ for some info but the derivation is generally unknown.

Walkers are also reminded to look at the Interactive Map as the map has recently been updated.  It now includes a contiguous Green (Completed Walkway) and Blue (Alternate Route) line that begins at Port Liberté and ends at the GW bridge. This route can be used by Walkers and Bikers who want to traverse the entire Hudson River Waterfront beginning in Jersey City.

The next Walk the Walkway will be on Sunday June 4 in Weehawken, at 9:00 AM at the Lincoln Harbor Sheraton parking lot next to the Walkway.

Photo album of walk.


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