NORTH BERGEN, NJ – Senator Nicholas Sacco (D-32) and Assembly Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto (D-32) are each sponsoring bills in both the Senate and Assembly that would make Hudson River public walkways eligible for funding from the Shore Protection Fund for rehabilitation and preventative projects. The Senate version of the bill is S-2620 while the Assembly version is A-3874.
The Shore Protection Fund is a non-lapsing fund in the Department of the Treasury that was established for “protection, stabilization, restoration or maintenance of the shore.” These bills would expand the eligibility requirements to include walkways along the Hudson River in both Hudson and Bergen counties that are privately owned but by law must allow public access. Many of these walkways sustained damage during Hurricane Sandy and these bills would be a first step in the process to making sure their unique public-private status does not prevent them from receiving necessary state and federal funding.
“Just like our state’s beaches are an economic engine for shore areas, these public walkways have helped turn the Hudson River waterfront into the Gold Coast,” said Senator Sacco. “The companies, condo associations or other entities that own these walkways are rightfully mandated to provide public access to them and it is unfair to deny them state and federal assistance in repairs and preventative measures when a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy does the walkways damage.”
The walkways in question stretch from Jersey City to Edgewater. They have a unique legal status where they are often privately owned but nevertheless are legally required to be open to the public.
“Our state’s beaches suffer erosion over time and after storms, and in the same manner these areas along the Hudson River routinely suffer damage to their embankments,” said Assemblyman Prieto. “At times entire boulders are washed away or uprooted causing significant damage to these walkways including complete and partial collapses into the Hudson River. We are not very far away from having that damage encroach on the actual buildings behind the walkways, a potential disaster for waterfront residents.”
S-2620 is also being sponsored by Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31) while A-3874 is also sponsored by Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-32) and Assemblyman Ruben Ramos (D-33). Both bills have been submitted for consideration and assignment to committee.
Sacco and Prieto will also be reaching out to federal lawmakers to advocate for additional funding opportunities from the federal government and FEMA.
The bills have been generating media coverage in the Jersey Journal and other publications.