The chances to enjoy a walk along the continually developing Hudson River Waterfront Walkway are dwindling as summer draws to a close. But there are still chances to take a guided tour.
The Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy of New Jersey serve as the host of two upcoming tours of the walkway, which runs along the water from Bayonne to the George Washington Bridge. By New Jersey law, all developers along the river must add to a part of the walkway so that ultimately pedestrians can stroll for 18.5 miles.
The tours will introduce newly constructed sections, as well as educate tour-goers about political issues surrounding the walkway.
“The purpose is to raise awareness and to have quite a nice day.” – Donald Stitzenberg
The Conservancy asks for a $5 donation to register for the walks, although children under 15 can attend for free.
A three-hour tour
The first tour will begin Sunday, Sept. 18 at 9:30 a.m. and will cover about 2.5 miles of “easy walking” ending at 12:30 p.m.
Tour groups will meet on the sidewalk in front of the NY Waterway Ferry Terminal on Port Imperial Road in Weehawken before being transported to the northern border of North Bergen. The group will then proceed to walk south along the Hudson, ultimately ending at the Weehawken Ferry Terminal.
Walkers will travel through North Bergen, Guttenberg, and West New York, where the walkway is 98 percent complete with only one section still under construction.
The second tour will be held on Sunday, Oct. 9. It will begin at the Weehawken Ferry Terminal at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at the Erie Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken by 12:30 p.m. This section of the walkway is about 85 percent complete.
Tour-goers will then take the light rail (for which they must pay the fare), from Hoboken back to the Weehawken Ferry Terminal.
While part of the tour will travel across famous historical sites, such as that of the Hamilton-Burr duel, the Conservancy guides will focus mainly on the political issues surrounding the walkway.
“It kind of opens [people’s] eyes to some things they may have not been familiar with,” said Donald Stitzenberg, vice president of the Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy of NJ. “We’ve had some issues with the walkway and we point them out to the public.”
“The walkway itself was created in state legislation back in 1984,” said Stizenberg, who added that the public was given the right to access the waterfront in the Public Trust Doctrine of New Jersey.
Of the parts of the walkway that are not developed, Stitzenberg said that some of the remaining 15 percent is owned by either developers who have yet to construct their portion of the walkway, or owners who were exempt because they purchased their lots before the 1984 legislation was implemented.
One of the main aims of the Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy’s organization is to help ensure that landowners are doing their share to help construct the walkway.
“The reason we exist is to provide an offsetting pressure or support,” said Stitzenberg, “to the view that the walkway is not desirable.”
The Conservancy will typically work with the state Department of Environmental Protection to help ensure that the walkway is constructed and properly maintained.
“Not everyone thinks the walkway is a good idea,” continued Stitzenberg. “[The developers] view it as an added expense that they wish they didn’t have.”
Stitzenberg also mentioned that some properties, such as golf courses, refuse to finish their part of the walkway despite a legal obligation to do so.
“They claim it’s a danger,” said Stitzenberg, who added that this issue is one of many that will be discussed during the tour.
“The purpose [of our walk] is to raise awareness and to have quite a nice day,” added Stitzenberg.
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.