The proposed sculpture is incompatible with the original design of Pier C Park

 May 21, 2024

Ms. Jennifer Gonzalez
Director of Climate Action + Innovation
City of Hoboken
Hoboken, New Jersey

RE: Sculpture proposed for Pier C fishing pier

Dear Ms. Gonzalez:

FBW strongly supports the City of Hoboken’s public art program. The sculpture proposed for Pier C Park, however, is problematic. This letter states our reasons why. Please include this as part of the public record. 

The proposed sculpture is incompatible with the original design of Pier C Park  Michael Van Valkenburgh, the world-renowned landscape architect who designed Pier C Park, worked with James Carpenter Design Associates to create a public space that is an artwork unto itself. The design ensures that the public can enjoy unparalleled, unobstructed views from the walkway at the outer edge of the pier, including the fishing pier. The imposing, overarching sculpture would block these views from multiple points and distract, rather than enhance, the exceptional design of the park.

The scale of the proposed sculpture overwhelms the site and negates its intended use Walking under these towering arches causes people to feel insignificant and detracts from the enjoyment of the natural surroundings and expansive open space over the river. The staggered arches span the length of the fishing pier creating an unwelcome environment for those fishing and an impediment to casting fishing rods. 

The feedback we have heard from the public is overwhelmingly opposed to placing this sculpture at this location  Comments sent to City officials that were also shared with FBW, show strong opposition to such a large, ostentatious artwork at this beloved portion of Hoboken’s waterfront. We have heard from sculptors who understand how public art works. We have also heard from many people who were active in the creation of the parks at the South Waterfront, including David Roberts who was Mayor and former City Council member Tony Soares, both of whom worked with Mr. Van Valkenburgh. People’s opinions of public art may differ, but in this instance, people generally agree that this work is inappropriate for this site.

In 2012, Superstorm Sandy devastated Pier C Park; a future storm surge could be devastating to the sculpture as well  The powerful storm surge that occurred during Superstorm Sandy washed over Pier C, devastating the park that had to be completely rebuilt from the deck up. It is not clear how these steel and glass arches would be attached to the deck of the fishing pier. I have inquired about the weight of this artwork, but no one had an answer. On land, substantial footings would be required, but on this pier it is unclear how a stable footing could be established. 

Public Process  Public art requires a thorough vetting process and ample opportunities for the public to provide feedback. In this instance, the City’s first public presentation occurred immediately prior to holding the first public hearing. The City did not consult with the landscape architect. Nor did the City contact the Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy or the NJDEP. The City did not reach out to us, despite our 34-year history of advocacy and experience with the design team for Hoboken’s South Waterfront. Hoboken’s Art Master Plan was not adopted prior to this work being selected.

Tourist attractions are not needed or appropriate for Hoboken’s waterfront Hoboken’s waterfront is a local resource used by area residents on a regular basis, 90 percent of whom walk to the waterfront. The waterfront park is open and available to all and it is a popular destination for many throughout the region. Tourist attractions, especially ones inviting car traffic, would defeat the purpose of the park as a peaceful refuge. 

Do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions, and thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our comments.

Very Truly Yours,

Ron Hine
Executive Director