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2012-01-17-letter to Jersey Journal re Bayonne Golf Club

Conservancy notes man trapped in Bayonne Golf Club due to state decision

Letter to Editor of Jersey Journal                                   Jan 17, 2012

From: Helen Manogue, President Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy of NJ, Inc

Padlocked gates trap Bayonne resident at Golf Club

A city resident enjoying a late afternoon walk along the Hudson River Walkway in the Bayonne Golf Club on December 12, 2012 ended up being trapped when he found the entrance to the area padlocked shut. He could not get out and called the police.

That incident became a matter of public record when the victim’s letter to this paper was published January 10. 2012. The cause of this disquieting event is the result of an extremely poor decision by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that allows the luxurious and super expensive golf facility to padlock the entrance to the Hudson River Walkway that runs along the river edge below the greens. State law actually requires pedestrian and bike access to the Walkway 24/7. In this case, the DEP unfortunately chose to dismantle the very law it is supposed to uphold.

The Bayonne Golf Club has a long history of ignoring state law while trampling on the rights of the general public.

For almost 10 years it has illegally, without required state permits,  constructed a heliport, installed a ferry dock, built a spud barge, consistently barred the public from three quarters of a mile of Waterfront Walkway, and failed to provide lighting on the Walkway open to the public after dark. These and other violations of state law amount to nine violations of seven state laws. In 2007 the DEP examined the area, found the violations and assessed penalties of $312,000.00 followed by additional penalties for not rectifying the violations. The Golf Club took the matter to the DEP’s Administrative Court where it stayed until mid 2011.

When the Christie administration took over it decided to “amicably resolve this matter without further delay, expense or litigation.” (ACO Findings Pt. No. 10) The resolution was so “amicable” and the DEP so anxious to please, it abandoned its responsibility to assure access for the public to the planned 1.74 miles of Walkway at the site. Shockingly, DEP gave the golf club the ability to retain everything it had illegally constructed. The rationale for this is that the area in which the illicit installations are located is close to an oil tank farm to the south and that the public, not the illegal facilities, has to be banned! It is doubtful that most people would be so naïve as to think that wealthy golfers are automatically good guys and never terrorists. To add insult to injury, the DEP gave the club the right to not only prohibit the public from the eastern Walkway but to lock the gates at the main entrance to the Walkway every evening, a distance of at least two miles from the tank farm.

The highly-touted, supposedly tough negotiating prowess of the state administration has failed the public and succumbed to the demands of big money with well-heeled clients. The people of this state lose big-time in this “amicable resolution” and will continue to pay dearly for the loss of access to their waterfront.

Helen Manogue



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