Here's why Admiral's Walk should comply with Hudson River Walkway court decision | Opinion

Regarding "Hudson River Walkway: Does the public own your land?,", March 7:

We are writing to rebut the letter from Laura Donnelly, president of the Admiral’s Walk Condominium Association, concerning the Public Trust Doctrine, and how Admiral’s Walk in Edgewater refuses to comply with the PTD and a state Superior Court decision.

It is apparent that members of the Admiral’s Walk community believe the PTD applies to everyone in New Jersey except them. Admiral’s Walk continues to feel that it deserves some special exemption or privilege so that it can maintain a private path along the Hudson River exclusively for its residents. This, of course, is in violation of the PTD and the court’s order. The court recently reaffirmed our position against Admiral’s Walk when it wrote: “The public’s right is inalienable and vested.“

It is hard to understand the Admiral’s Walk board’s position, when existing condominiums and developers of new condominiums from Edgewater to Jersey City fully embrace the walkway as an attractive amenity to renters and purchasers of waterfront homes, thereby increasing property values. Individual Admiral’s Walk residents often approach the conservancy to seek our help in opening the waterfront so they, too, can reach Edgewater Veterans Park and the Edgewater Marina via the walkway and avoid the dangerous River Road sidewalk.

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The conservancy has tried for more than 10 years to find a solution that would allow the waterfront at Admiral’s Walk to be opened to the public. All our efforts have been stonewalled and attacked by Admiral’s Walk with the same specious arguments posed in Donnelly’s letter. It should be noted that these arguments have been rejected by the court. Donnelly’s claims regarding costs to comply, parking spaces lost, and impact on the pool are outrageously misleading and incorrect.

Concerning Fred Daibes' proposal to build a walkway on the Admiral’s Walk waterfront at no cost to the complex, this effort was initiated by the conservancy more than two years ago. Since that time, the conservancy has led discussions among Admiral’s Walk, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Daibes and Edgewater, and they have reached consensus on the principles of an agreement to build the Daibes proposal at no cost to Admiral’s Walk.

Daibes has agreed to pay the entire cost to construct a walkway segment that would not affect Admiral’s Walk property. After two consecutive Admiral’s Walk boards voted to accept the proposal, all that was needed was for the members to vote to allow the project to proceed. To date, after two years, they have not even taken a vote on the proposal. It was only as a last resort, out of frustration and desperation, that the conservancy resorted to legal action against Admiral’s Walk and filed the current successful lawsuit.

It is up to Admiral’s Walk to comply with the court's decision and open the waterfront to the public in compliance with the Public Trust Doctrine. If the board members now decide to accept the Daibes proposal to build the walkway segment at no cost to them, the conservancy stands ready to coordinate, support and oversee the rapid implementation. If, however, Admiral's Walk continues to believe it is above the PTD law, then the conservancy is happy to let the court decide how Admiral's Walk will comply with the PTD and open the waterfront to the public.

Don Stitzenberg is president of the Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy.

Don Stitzenberg
Don Stitzenberg

This article originally appeared on Hudson River Walkway Admiral's Walk Edgewater NJ court decision