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Walk the Walkway

November 12, 2017

Northern Edgewater

On a brisk but calm day with temperatures in the 40’s, 9 hearty walkers including 2 HRWC Board members, and special guest Danali the long haired german pointer walked the northern half of the waterfront in Edgewater.  The Walkway in this area is only partly developed and the walk included some discussions of future Walkway development. The group gathered at 9:00 AM at the Trader Joe’s parking lot and after a few brief comments about the Conservancy and a description of today’s walk, the walkers  gathered their water and cameras and headed onto the Walkway at 9:30am.

The walkers entered the Walkway at the site of the former Binghamton dinner boat.  The Binghamton was demolished this summer to make way for a new Ferry Boat Restaurant planned for 2018.  Walking north, the Walkway is composed of poorly maintained riprap and pavers behind the Comfort Inn hotel.  There is no railing and the Walkway is likely to be destroyed again at the next major storm. Commercial buildings can be seen on the next section of Walkway and these buildings are planned to be demolished in 2018 and replaced with a high rise residential building.  This pattern of replacing commercial office space with residential condos and apartments is occurring along the entire length of the Walkway.

The Whole Foods property was next.  The Walkway is quite old and in need of repairs.  Beyond Whole Foods is theMariner’s Landing apartments where the Walkway is in good shape and has been well designed with proper widths and buffer areas.  The only concern is eroding rip-rap likely to worsen if it is not addressed by maintenance.

The walkers proceeded into Edgewater Marina which is a wonderful example of turning a declining property into a valuable asset for Edgewater citizens.  This marina and park were 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.  This is an excellent example of cooperation among the Township, the DEP and the public to integrate the rights of the public to access the waterfront with the operational safety and security concerns of marina operators.  The Conservancy uses this model as new marinas being planned along the Hudson attempt to restrict public access.

The next two properties are Admiral’s Walk and 1111 River Road. Both are older condominiums that were built before the legislation requiring a public walkway on the waterfront was passed.  These properties are “grandfathered” from building a section of the Walkway unless they try to develop the waterfront. However, they are probably in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine which gives the public the right to access the waterfront.  Hopefully someday the  Walkway segments in Edgewater Marina and the Edgewater Veterans Park on either side of these condos can be connected.  This will relieve the dangerous walk on River Road that is now required for pedestrians.

After stopping to admire and photograph the “Edgewater feral parrots” the group entered the magnificent newly redesigned and rebuilt Edgewater Veterans Park.  The park was closed for over 7 years to remediate the land from toxic contamination.  The park is a tribute to the Town of Edgewater.  The group stopped to “exercise” on the outdoor gym equipment, take photos and use the restrooms.  The park also contains several memorials to deceased Edgewater citizens.

Edgewater Park leads to a series of old and newer condominiums where the Walkway is open and completed.  The group found a small caved in portion of the Walkway that was being protected by benches in the middle of the Walkway.  This will be reported to the DEP and the condo management to pursue repairs of the Walkway and removal of the blocking benches.

The group paused at Hudson Harbor to talk about the adjacent property where the Le Jardin restaurant sits on the hill on River Road.  In June of this year, the DEP settled a multi-year suit with the property owner for illegal filling in of the Hudson River. The settlement requires the developer to begin construction of the Walkway within 12 months. Hopefully the vital “gap” in the Edgewater Walkway will be completed before the end of 2018.

The group then examined the Walkway at the Moorings condominiums. The Walkway segment at the Moorings is completed but it is not connected to any adjacent properties so the Walkway is currently only used by the Moorings residents.

Adjacent to the Moorings is the former Von Dohln marina which has been closed since Super Storm Sandy when the docks were destroyed.  The property is for sale or has been sold and will be developed into condominiums similar to The Moorings.  To the north of Von Dohln is another condominium development called Vela.  This very high end condominium has constructed their portion of the Walkway but as the group approached the stairs leading to the Walkway the entrance was blocked with a wooden barrier.  After some discussion with a family who were coming up the stairs from the Walkway, it was determined that the barrier was there to prevent the public from accessing the Walkway. This is a violation of the Walkway rules and will be reported to the DEP.   We expect that the residents do not want the public to use the Walkway since it does not lead to any adjacent 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, after a steep climb up a section of River Road past some older developments, the walkers  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 known as Burdett’s Landing.  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, have concerns about privacy and security and work to minimize transient auto or pedestrian traffic even though the Walkway uses the streets in The Colony as the official Walkway.  Today’s “fishing shacks” are now mostly 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 new Walkway signs had been posted. This was welcome as at our previous walk in the Colony, the signs were damaged and missing.

The group walked down Annette Ave and 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.  This sitting area has now been designated as a Private Pet Relief area and remains closed to the public. Resident groups can be very creative at finding ways to keep the public from their legal right to access the waterfront.

After discussions among the walkers about possible construction routes for the southern end of the Walkway within the Colony, viewing some of the unbelievable big waterfront homes and debating which mansion was the previous home of Geraldo Rivera, the group ended the walk at Palisades Interstate Park where the Walkway descends to meet the walking path to the GW bridge.

The walk ended with a good-by among the walkers and especially, Danali, who had become friends with everyone.

The 2017 Walk the Walkway series ended with this walk and will resume again in April.  The Conservancy wishes everyone a joyful Thanksgiving and Holiday season and a healthy winter and hopes to see everyone in April.

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