June 25, 2011 Conservancy letter to NJ DEP - Compliance and Enforcement
Assistant Commissioner Wolfgang Skacel
401 East State Street
Mail Code 401 40B Via E-mail
PO Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625-0401
Re: Administrative Consent Order Bayonne Golf
OAL Docket No. ECELU 01158-2009N
Dear Assistant Commissioner Skacel:
This is a follow up to the letter sent via e-mail yesterday as a means of underscoring some additional points that need your attention.
As was touched upon in the previous covering e-mail to you, the Conservancy has been extremely frustrated that for many months our attempts to schedule a meeting with you and Assistant Commissioner Marilyn Lennon to discuss the violations at this site and to determine the enforcement status have gone unanswered. As you know from our meeting with you and DEP personnel several years ago, the Conservancy has offered and continues to supply assistance to the DEP in upholding the Rules and Regulations of the Walkway. After reviewing the proposed ACO we realize that the DEP no longer values our help and fear that it is because our input might interfere with the outright gift the DEP is giving to the Bayonne Golf Club.
Here are our additional concerns:
- The only way the original Waterfront Development Permit (DEP File #0901-02-0005.1 WFD 030001) for the site was justified was due to the inclusion of the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway along the complete shoreline in order to meet the water dependent use requirement of the Rules of Coastal Zone Management. The permit would not have been issued if the walkway terminated at the unauthorized heliport.
- The Conservancy believes that the correspondence from NJOSHP (which lacks both an official letterhead and title of the signing person) brings its credibility into question as it simply provides Bayonne Golf Club with an excuse for not meeting its obligations to provide adequate public access to the residents of the state.
- The closure of the easterly portion of the walkway creates an unacceptable “dead end” situation forcing people to retrace their path without providing any easterly movement along the overall walkway. One of the basic goals of the walkway is to always avoid “dead end” segments. At the very least, the walkway should extend easterly along the waterfront to the “beach area’ and then up the hill along the existing cartway towards the clubhouse. The walkway path would lead down the Golf Club entrance road to Lefante Drive to Avenue J to East 22nd St. and then to Route 440.
- The “pier area” is the area at the northeast corner of the site where the walkway now terminates and includes the unauthorized stud barge and heliport, a gazebo used to house the gold carts used to transport the ferry and heliport passengers to the clubhouse, and a portion of the golf course. This area formerly was temporarily filled to provide a wharf area for off-loading the barges bringing in dredge spoils and other material to fill the site, with the fill to be removed upon completion of the filling operation. When time came for the developers to remove the fill they argued that if was economically infeasible to remove the fill and requested that the area remain. The justification for allowing the fill to remain was that the area would be used for a public access area. The existing conditions and the proposed ACO eliminate almost all of the public access in this area.
- The heliport is not a water dependent use and is an elimination of the water dependent use of the walkway in that location. The heliport should be relocated to the upland portion of the site, perhaps in the vicinity of the clubhouse. This would open up additional public access in the “pier area.”
- The wharf structure currently utilized for the heliport should be designated and improved as a fishing access. The current location of the fishing and kayak access is a terrible location as it has no water at low tide. The developer has not provided any amenities for fishing or launching of kayaks. The boulders at that location make the launching of kayaks almost impossible.
- The proposed ACO simply legalizes the 500 ft. golf driving range constructed on the easterly wetlands mitigation berm. It fails to mention that the floating silt fence incorporated to capture the floating golf balls privatizes at least 2 acres of open water in addition to the shoreline on the berm. The driving range should be removed from the waterfront as it is not a water dependent use. It also creates a dangerous precedent as we are unaware of any other driving range in the state that utilizes the open waters as the target area. If it is not removed it should go through the permitting process to allow comments from the public and the federal agencies.
- It is a contemptuous slight to the people of New Jersey that the Department has determined that the loss of almost a mile of Hudson River Waterfront Walkway and the wetlands impacts caused by the violations are worth a trifling amount of $46,875. Talk about a deal for the developers! This is an incentive for all waterfront property owners to refuse to provide public access so they too may be rewarded by the current administration.
The Conservancy urges that our observations and suggestions be taken seriously and that many changes will be made to this scandalous and inappropriate document.
Helen Manogue, President
Don Stitzenberg, Esq., Vice President
Peggy Wong, Secretary
Edward H. Rogaski, Jr., Treasurer
William Neyenhouse PP, Trustee
Howard Singer, Ph.D., Trustee
Dorcey Winant, Trustee