On Monday, September 21, 2009, people gathered on a bright, warm afternoon to hear what they thought would be an announcement that the new stretch of the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway from the Erie Terminal in Hoboken south into Newport in Jersey City would be completely open to the general public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Up to that point the section just below the bridge constructed south of the Light Rail station in Hoboken had been closed down, more often than not¸ at 10 p.m. every evening not to reopen until 6 the following morning. The Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy¸ which works with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection to uphold the rights of the public to 24 hour access to the WW, had been informed that the stretch would be proclaimed open 24/7. The Conservancy had been working with the DEP for the previous six weeks to get the gates permanently unlocked.
The event that day was for the ribbon cutting by Governor Jon Corzine celebrating the opening of the new bridge and the on-land segment of the WW. The event began at 1:15 p.m. At least five elected officials ranging from U.S. Senator Robert Mendez to the mayors of Jersey City and Hoboken spoke. Not one official mentioned that the segment would be open 24/7. The ceremony ended with an invitation from the developer of the southern section of the new WW inviting everyone to walk with him into Jersey City and everyone, including the Governor,started to walk.
Fortunately, a member of the Conservancy board took the opportunity to catch up with the Governor, tap him on the arm and tell him that the most important comment he could make that day was to officially open the closed-off segment to the public 24/7. The governor, after noting the safety issues, promised that this would be done. He walked on but called over a DEP official; he then beckoned to the conservancy representative to join them. Again the conservancy board member made the case for the importance of officially proclaiming the opening perpetually as required by law to be 24/7. As the conservancy rep walked away, the governor with a flourish of his hands and in a loud voice proclaimed, “Let the word go out, this Walkway is now open 24/7. Spread the word; open 24/7.” As he walked back toward Hoboken, he repeated this edict several times.
That is how the Walkway got its perpetual public access back on track. Enjoy it.