On Thursday, May 14th, FBW will join dozens of other local non-profit organizations registered for #HudsonGives, an online day of giving. For the second year in a row, the Hudson County Chamber Foundation has hosted this virtual event to support the wide range of not-for-profit organizations working – and enriching –  Hudson County. It’s easy to participate: just log onto hudsongives.org at any time on Thursday, May 14th, and search for the non-profit you’d like to support. You’ll find FBW’s page here: Give to Fund for a Better Waterfront . Your gift is fully tax-deductible. 

No Nonprofit Left Behind

Of course, with the COVID-19 crisis, this is a particularly important juncture for charitable groups. While some work directly with those on the front line of the crisis, almost all nonprofits  in the county are vulnerable to the economic devastation wrought by the virus. With in-person events canceled or postponed indefinitely, nonprofits are figuring out ways to hold on to staff, make rent and continue their work in what is often a radically new environment. 

Now, as ever, open space makes a difference

With the parks closed during the coronavirus crisis, we no longer have to imagine a scenario of living in Hoboken with no access to open space. Even temporarily, that moment is here. “Through this strange, lived experience, we are being made aware of the heart of FBW’s mission,” reflects Kate Valenta, Hoboken resident and FBW Board Member, “to plan and fight for urban open space.” Indeed, as we look forward to the day when the waterfront and other parks reopen, it’s a good time to recognize the important role the waterfront, in particular, serves for all of us. 

I can unequivocally say that our waterfront park is the reason I moved to Hoboken” recounts FBW Board Member Emmanuelle Morgen. Her story is not an unfamiliar one. Having grown up in Oregon, access to parks was an important requirement for her new home. A friend invited Ms. Morgen to Hoboken for a visit. “As we approached the waterfront railing, with the sky deepening to blue in the twilight, the river stretched out before us, and Manhattan’s buildings beginning to light up, I knew with certainty this was the place I wanted to begin my new chapter.”

30 years of fighting for a public waterfront

Many of the people enjoying Hoboken’s waterfront today were not yet born when the fight for it began. Carving out a public space as unique as our waterfront park, is, at its heart, all about planning. “When we began back in 1990, the waterfront was abandoned and littered with dilapidated piers,” FBW Executive Director, Ron Hine, recalls. “It was our architect, Craig Whitaker, who later drafted the Plan for the Hoboken Waterfront, who helped us see the possibility of what we could create – a public park along the full length of Hoboken’s shoreline.” In the subsequent three decades, FBW has fought off countless attempts to privatize, build on, wall off, or otherwise diminish the park. Hine says,“We’ve had to fight for every inch.”

Planner and architect Craig Whitaker has long placed FBW in the tradition of organizations that serve as watchdogs for the public good. “Many American cities have turned over control to private developers without crafting for themselves a role for the public. FBW from its beginning, has been the public’s advocate. It relies on people giving in order to keep FBW hot on the trail of the next piece of the waterfront that needs attending to, from a public point of view.”

We hope you’ll consider FBW as one of the organizations you’ll support on Thursday, May 14th, 2020. Like other groups, we’re seeking to survive this period, in our case so that we can continue the work we began in 1990, fighting for a continuous and undeniably public waterfront park. You’ll find FBW’s Hudson Gives page here: Give to Fund for a Better Waterfront .