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Weehawken, Hoboken 2011

Walk the Walkway
October 9, 2011
Weehawken and Hoboken

On a warm, sunny day, 33 walkers convened at the Weehawken 9/11 Memorial on the Walkway to experience the beauty of the Hudson River Waterfront in Weehawken and Hoboken. The group included walkers from Manhattan as well as Garwood and Edison in Central New Jersey. Helen Manogue, president of the Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy welcomed the group and introduced the Board of the HRWC.

The walk began at 9:45 with a few moments of consideration of the Weehawken 9/11 Memorial. It is simple in design and most felt it an appropriate tribute to the 9/11 tragedy.

The Memorial is located in the middle of property controlled by Roseland Properties. The property extends from the Port Imperial Ferry Terminal at the West New York border south to the Henley on Hudson Condominiums. Much of this extensive property remains to be developed by Roseland but thanks to agreement with Weehawken and the DEP, Roseland has completed the Walkway for the entire property and it fully meets the Walkway design guidelines.

Walking south from the Memorial the vista of mid-town New York with its cruise ships, the Intrepid Museum and magnificent skyline were enjoyed by the walkers. The southern end of the Roseland property is the Brownstone townhouses. A member of the Weehawken Planning Board, who was walking with us, gave a short history of the difficult approval process and some features not implemented at the Brownstones that will be applied to other parts of the Roseland development. Most significant is requiring that the waterfront road be located between the Walkway and any future buildings thereby providing a buffer for noise and security that does not exist at the Brownstones.

Henley on Hudson condominiums came next on the walk. This development is only partially completed but, like Roseland, Henley has completed the entire Walkway in a compliant manner. A member of the Weehawken Historical society provided a description of the Weehawken Dueling Grounds where Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr fought a duel. Unfortunately, the exact location of the dueling ground was buried when the railroads were built.

Next on the walk came Weehawken Park, a wonderful public space built by Roseland as part of their development approvals. The park has soccer fields, a running track, an official Little League field, tennis courts and a golf putting green. There also is lots of open space. The park is not complete as a second phase remains to be built which will have a kayak launch, skating pavilion and possibly a swimming pool. When completed, the Weehawken Park will be 11 acres.

The group followed a path around the undeveloped portion of Weehawken Park and entered Lincoln Harbor. This development is one of the oldest sections of the Walkway. It was built by Hartz Mountain in the 1980’s and contains residential, commercial and retail space. Hartz recently rebuilt a major section of the river bulkhead and Walkway which was collapsing into the river. Long term maintenance and reconstruction of the Walkway is a major issue as, unlike Hartz, many riverfront property owners are unwilling or unable to fund the work. Hartz will soon break ground for a new 585 unit residential complex.

Lincoln Harbor is the southernmost property in Weehawken and adjoins Hoboken at Weehawken Cove. It was exhilarating to see construction of the Walkway and parks in both Weehawken and Hoboken almost completed. When this section of the Walkway is opened (hopefully before the end of 2011) it will be possible to walk or bike continuously from Goldman Sachs in Jersey City to North Bergen approximately 10 miles.

The north end of Hoboken is filled with brand new high end condominiums. The Hudson Tea condominiums are the original home of Lipton Tea and the Maxwell Place condominiums are on the site of the original home of Maxwell House coffee. It was rewarding to see how the old defunct industrial facilities can be rejuvenated and converted to a wonderful residential community.

The Walkway in this area is integrated with an excellent park that was full of the public enjoying the sunny day. Unfortunately, parts of the Walkway are closed as the wooden piers that support the Walkway have been invaded by river borers and are collapsing.

Helen Manogue provided a history of this area of Hoboken and the many years of work the HRWC and other groups devoted to make sure the parks and Walkway were built by the developers to provide access and recreational facilities to the public.

Following Maxwell Place, the Hoboken Dry Dock continues to operate a working waterfront site. Where this is the case along the riverfront, there is no Walkway and we had to use the sidewalk to pass the site. Whenever the dry dock is replaced by residential or commercial facilities, a Walkway will be built.

Beyond the dry dock, there is a long area of walkway that was developed by the New Jersey Dept of Environmental Protection (DEP). There is a skateboard park and a wonderful fishing pier with fisherman enjoying the day. Bill Neyenhouse, a member of the HRWC Board who is retired from the DEP, provided a brief history of how the state and local agencies worked to build the Walkway and recreational facilities in this area.

Following the DEP section, we were disappointed as the newly constructed section of the Walkway built by Stevens Institute was closed. Areas at both ends of the Stevens section of the Walkway have also been invaded by river borers and are closed until they are repaired.

Finally, after 2.5 hours of walking we approached the southernmost section of the Walkway in Hoboken. This section is probably the nicest area on the entire Walkway. It includes separate walking and biking paths, two enormous parks built on piers in the Hudson River, shade trees and benches. Here again, this gorgeous facility only exists because the residents of Hoboken “rose up’ and with the help of the Fund for a Better Waterfront and the Hoboken Environment Committee, the predecessor of the HRWC, fought against high rise condos on the waterfront and succeeded in forcing the Port Authority to build this wonderful place.

At 12:30 pm a satisfied group of walkers enjoyed the air conditioning of the light rail to return to Weehawken.

This walk was the last one in the 2011 series of Walk the Walkway walks. We hope everyone will join us next year when we again explore the beauty and magnificence of the Hudson River waterfront as we Walk the Walkway with the HRWC.


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