Last Sunday, June 12th, Nancy Jonap led our pre-party and end-of-season walk through Liberty State Park
in Jersey City. Our original intention was for the 20 of us to walk the standard seven mile loop starting at 1:00 p.m. at the nearby Zeppelin Hall & Beer Garden
near Grand and Jersey. But the weather this day was better than expected and called for a little more exploring.
There’s about a two mile walk out a to Morris Pesin Dr at the southern point of the park, perhaps the center area the park is most known for. Beyond that area but not visible from the waterfront in J.C. are two interesting areas we continued to explore – Liberty National Golf Course
and Port Liberte
. The public walkway continues through these areas which snakes around an irregular coastline and an unfamiliar waterfront for most of us.
Near the far end of the park is walkway heads inland along a waterfront toward a magnificent modern building and a sweeping panorama that is hard to decipher as a golf course. The walkway heads straight to the “Clubhouse” which is a laughable misnomer if there ever was one. This 57,000 sq. foot futuristic building was built about five years ago and was designed to provide a full view of the NY harbor from midtown to the Verrazano Bridge and Staten Island. Built in the form of a ship’s prow, there is simply nothing like it in an area and it stands out in the harbor. Of course, its restaurant and cigar terrace is positioned for the best view. You may also choose to land your helicopter or dock your yacht in its facilities.
I learned later that the golf course is one of the most expensive ever built at $250 million. Its 160 acres was filled and reclaimed from old shipping and industrial land. The Fireman family who made and sold the Reebok brand built this as a labor of love and apparently not to recoup their investment. This is a private course where members pay $500,000 just to join, let alone whatever the annual dues and greens fees are. Its first nationally televised PGA tour was Barclay's tournament in 2009, where Tiger and other notables played. Its known as a great place to golf, if you can get in, and a great venue to shoot on TV with is view of Manhattan, the harbor, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, etc.
Sailing into the Porte
The day was a fine mid-June weather day while we walked, but there were few signs of anyone using the golf course or even the Clubhouse. Although we chalked that up to the elaborate privacy measures where you could not see in the Clubhouse or even the course as much as “they” could see out. So, we continued to walk toward a complex of very luxurious condos in a waterfront setting called Port Liberte. In fact, there were very few people visible in the condos too. This we chalked up to everyone being away in their “other condo” for the weekend, somewhere near other water, I guess.
According to Sam Ezzeldin, our FreeWalker expert of this area, Port Liberte is not a new concept but began over 30 years ago as one of the first exclusive developments along the Jersey City waterfront. With the booming real estate market and the area in view of the harbor and the new golf course, the project expanded over the last 10 years and now there hundreds of units ranging in price from $1.5 to $5 million. Residents can tie up their boat and sail the NYC harbor. It seemed like a place out of place. Maybe this should be Florida? The Carolinas?
But we found out that there are two problems way out here. One is that there is very few commercial businesses nearby to serve the community and on the other side of these exclusive condos is a view of the industrial scrap metal yard where old boats are recycled and reincarnated. It’s the end of the road for boats as well for walkers like us. Here, Sam managed to know the restaurant owner who gave us use of the bathroom!
By this time we were two hours into our walk and running behind. We backtracked and headed to the two mile promenade walkway to take full advantage of the magnificent views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the old Ferry Building and a memorial to the Twin Towers. Unfortunately, I had to take a shortcut and headed back to the beer garden as we were running at least ½ hour late.
Whole Lotta Love at the Zeppelin
The Zeppelin Biergarten is a great unique place that’s only been open about two years. There’s as spacious bar and hall where we saw groups of people mingling along with children playing. The hall opens out to a back yard with food and beer stands, trees, and about 50 picnic tables. It has an old-fashioned country fair atmosphere, at least in the daytime. At night the place turns into something else I’m sure. But for now, it’s a great place for anyone to meet, talk and have a drink, if you want, for as long as you want.
Soon, I distributed “dog tags” for each of our last three walks and our new FreeWalker Awards
. The Awards went to individuals that best represented the FreeWalker spirit over our 2011 Spring walking season. Everyone who walked justly deserved their dog tags and acknowledgement to some special people. Here’s who won:
- Ken Koch (Best FreeWalker)
- Claudia Acosta (Best FreeWalker)
- Abby Carman (Best Animal FreeWalker)
- Mackenzie Roe (Best Young FreeWalker)
- Mike & Ann Kruimer (Best Support Team)
We broke up around 6 p.m. in agreement that we’d stay in touch and plan for one or two walking events for the Fall. It was Liberty and Justice for all!