In 1998, alarmed by the rampant, hodgepodge construction of private enclaves and high-rise towers in the towns to the north, concerned residents formed the Friends of the Weehawken Waterfront. At the time, Weehawken’s waterfront was an expansive 142 acres of undeveloped land. FBW worked closely with this group and brought in its planner, Craig Whitaker, to help them develop the Plan for the Weehawken Waterfront.
As with all plans, it began by mapping the public street system. In Weehawken, that meant defining blocks for private development, land at the river’s edge for public space, and a continuous waterfront park. The proposed blocks and buildings sought to echo the human scale and character found in the older Weehawken neighborhoods that sit atop the Palisades. The public streets — the public rights-of-way — would ensure full public access to a public park at the river’s edge that would be unimpeded by private development.
Unfortunately, the Township of Weehawken declined to adopt such a plan for its waterfront despite intense pressure as well as litigation from the Friends of the Weehawken Waterfront. Instead, the Township allowed the developer to drive the planning process. Today, the results of this excessive development are evident, with a largely private street system and failure to delineate between public and private areas.