This preferred alternative includes the skate park, an expansive lawn, expanded beach and forest trails

FBW | August 29, 2023

Following the second public meeting conducted in July via Zoom, the design team for the park at Union Dry Dock conducted a second survey. 869 people responded. Of the three approaches proposed by the design team, the clear winner was the Waterfront Promenade Approach, ranked first by 44 percent of respondents. The Habitat Terraces Approach garnered 28 percent and the Civic Pier Approach was third with 27 percent.

Hoboken has the good fortune of being very close to its waterfront. 67.4 percent of the survey respondents said they would access this park at Union Dry Dock by walking or running. Another 24.5 percent indicated that they would come on foot or by bike.

The City of Hoboken granted a $1.1 million contract to Dattner Architects to design the park. Dattner’s design team — Scape Studio, landscape architects; Indigo River, marine engineers; Kimley-Horn, civil/transportation engineers — will unveil a final concept design this November.

The alignment of the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway at the water’s edge was favored by 58 percent of the survey participants, with only 13 percent favoring the walkway along Sinatra Drive. Choosing this waterfront route would eliminate a potential problem with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), whose regulations require the walkway to be built contiguous with the Hudson River shoreline. FBW recently consulted with the Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy, the nonprofit that works with the NJDEP to oversee the completion of the 18-mile state-mandated walkway; they advised that the Waterfront Promenade Approach was the only option they could support.

The Waterfront Promenade Approach includes a large, “flexible” lawn area surrounded by trees and “forest trails,” both ideas strongly supported by the survey respondents. The new skate park is also included in this approach. All three approaches expand the beach at Maxwell Place Park into the north end of the Dry Dock site, more than doubling the size of the existing beach area.

Nearly 70 percent of the Dry Dock property will be leased to NY Waterway for the next three to five years, part of an agreement that allowed the City of Hoboken to acquire the site. But Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla has said that the park at Union Dry Dock could be built beginning in 2025 on the unleased portions of the site. In fact, both the skate park and the expanded beach could be included in this initial park build. A 25-foot wide strip along the western portion of the Dry Dock property will be given over to the Sinatra Drive Project that includes several rows of trees, a widened sidewalk and protected bicycle pathway. The Sinatra Drive Project is scheduled to begin construction by the end of this year.

The Dry Dock property consists of 3.15 acres on land and another 5 acres over water. Subtracting the area for the Sinatra Drive Project (0.432 acres) and the Waterfront Walkway (0.519 acres) leaves just two acres of land, a long and narrow strip, for the park design. Obviously, there is a limit to how the design team’s many ideas — such as a 2-story civic hub, food trucks, picnic areas, an art pavilion, a pollinator meadow, immersive marsh boardwalks, sports courts, programmed adventure forest, etc. — can fit into this relatively small space. Early on, the City named it Maritime Park with the understanding that Hoboken’s former working waterfront would be recognized, yet how this will be accomplished has not been clearly defined. A rebuilt pier used for docking historic vessels or a barge museum could go a long way to solving this problem.

FBW first proposed a continuous, public park along the Hudson River in its 1990 Plan for the Hoboken Waterfront. In 2017, FBW partnered with the City of Hoboken and many stakeholders in a contentious, multi-year battle with NY Waterway and the Governor to secure the Union Dry Dock property as public open space, one of the final missing links in the 1990 proposal for a waterfront park.

This past year, FBW reached out to these stakeholders and others including the Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy, the Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse, Ke Aloha Outrigger, Resilience Paddle Sports, neighborhood residents, skateboarders and maritime history advocates for feedback about the park design. The City and design team, however, have limited their engagement with the public to just one in-person meeting held last April, a July Zoom meeting and two online surveys.

Selected quotes from the survey respondents: 

I know people say they want amenities in Maritime, but in a densely built town, we have plenty of amenities a couple blocks away. What we truly need is a greater connection to the waterfront, not a restaurant or food trucks or another place to buy coffee. Please keep the design simple and functional. Also, please retain the skatepark. It is a great means for inclusive recreation in town.

Keep it simple! Some additional bathrooms and expansion of the beach and some trees are really all we need.

Make sure we don’t forget about the historical importance of ship building, repairing and the port of Hoboken.

Maritime Park does not live up to its name. Historic features, referencing Hoboken’s working waterfront, need to be included. Being able to dock appropriate vessels might be the best opportunity to do this. Be careful not to over-program this park. 

This is a once in a generation opportunity to make the best skatepark on the east coast of the US (you’ll never beat CA skateparks). Can you please take advantage of the skatepark expansion possibilities?