Significant progress for Hoboken’s continuous, public waterfront park, first proposed by FBW in 1990, will be made in 2023

FBW | August 4, 2022

Construction of a 2.5-acre waterfront park at the north end of Hoboken at the Weehawken Cove will begin this spring. This will be the first major addition to Hoboken’s riverfront park since Maxwell Place Park was established in 2007.

The Fund for a Better Waterfront (FBW) first proposed the concept for a contiguous, public park along Hoboken’s Hudson River shoreline in 1990 before any development had taken place along the waterfront. Major progress was achieved early on, in the 1990s, with the creation of Sinatra Park and then the parks at the South Waterfront, adding over 12 acres of public open space to this densely populated urban community.   

On August 3, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced that Gov. Murphy had secured $100 million in New Jersey’s state budget for the Hudson River Rebuild by Design project that is being managed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. These funds will pay for the construction of the park at the Weehawken Cove that includes a concealed flood wall built into the park design. 

This Rebuild by Design project began in 2013 with a $230 million federal grant designated primarily to protect against flood surges similar to what occurred during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The flood walls are being constructed at the low-lying south end of Hoboken extending into Jersey City and the north end extending into Weehawken. Most of the $100 million will cover increased costs for the surge protection measures.

Additional progress will take place next year at Hoboken’s waterfront with the City’s Sinatra Drive Project and its acquisition of the Union Dry Dock site. The Sinatra Drive Project began last December when the City awarded a contract to Kimley-Horn to design and oversee the reconstruction of Sinatra Drive from Fourth Street up to Hudson, near Eleventh that will include a protected bicycle pathway. 

FBW, concerned about the limited landscape plan for the Sinatra Drive Project unveiled in May, hired the landscape architecture firm, Arnold Associates, to develop a street tree proposal. This past month, Stephen Lederach of Arnold Associates presented this plan to City officials that includes a row of shade trees lining Sinatra Drive that would tie together the landscape design at the South Waterfront up to Maxwell Place Park. The plan includes details on how the trees should be planted with the proper volume of soil to ensure that they thrive and eventually form a canopy over the sidewalk and bicycle pathway.

The most constricted portion of the waterfront is at Union Dry Dock. Since 2017, Mayor Bhalla and FBW with the support of the Hoboken community, have fought plans by NY Waterway and NJ Transit to locate a refueling and repair facility at this site that the ferry company had acquired that year.  Last year, the mayor announced that a settlement had been reached with NY Waterway and the Governor’s office that will allow the City to acquire the Union Dry Dock property for a park. This 3-acre park will connect the Skateboard Park to Maxwell Place Park and complete the final portion of Hoboken’s Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. The City’s acquisition of this site will be paid for primarily through Hoboken’s Open Space Trust Fund.

The key to the success of Hoboken’s waterfront is that the park be fully connected from the Hoboken Terminal up to the Weehawken Cove. This has been the basis for FBW’s advocacy for the past three decades.

The Weehawken Cove is a special, protected inlet of the Hudson River where in 1609 Henry Hudson docked his vessel, the Half Moon, in his effort to locate a western passage to China.  In 1888, the Tietjen and Lang Dry Dock company established a 41-acre ship repair facility there that was later acquired in 1916 by Todd Shipyards. Todd operated there for 50 years until 1965, employing 11,000 workers during World War II and 4,500 workers during World War I. 

Related Links

Scoping Out Hudson River Rebuild by Design
State takes control of Hoboken’s Rebuild by Design project
After a contentious, multi-year battle, City will acquire Union Dry Dock
Maxwell Place Park, former home to the Maxwell House Coffee Plant 
Court challenge moves forward as Hartz drives piles for high-rise towers
Plan for the Hoboken Waterfont