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Resilient, revitalized, and accessible coastlines for all communities.


Waterfront Access for All

Only one-third of the New York–New Jersey Harbor Estuary’s waterfront is accessible to the public.

Did you know?

  • Only 9 percent

    of publicly accessible waterfronts are in high-need areas

  • Living shorelines

    have 25 percent more biodiversity compared to a seawall

  • Only 6 of 231

    New Jersey municipalities have adopted Municipal Public Access Plans

The Issue

There are still physical and social barriers to waterfront access.

In recent years, progress has been made to provide better waterfront access and stewardship opportunities to the region. But physical and social barriers to waterfront access persist, particularly in lower-income communities of color. These physical barriers include aging infrastructure, hardened shoreline design, and lack of funding. The social barriers are ingrained in our society and systemic processes for waterfront decision-making. To ensure access for all, we need to make sure under-served communities have a stronger voice in decisions about waterfront access and development. We also need to make sure we are designing our waterfront public spaces to be nature-based and resilient for generations to come.

Our Solution

Advocate for equitable waterfront development.

The Waterfront Alliance is working to provide more opportunities for people to get on and touch the water, as well as improve community engagement in waterfront development processes, leading to more equitable, healthy, and resilient coastal communities. Through different public forums, community board presentations, and one-on-one discussions, we seek to elevate the role of community-driven design and planning for waterfront public spaces and ensure that benefits of our waterways are accessible to all.

Create an Access for All Task Force.

Waterfront Alliance has partnered with the New York–New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP) Public Access Work Group on an Access for All Task Force. The Waterfront Alliance and HEP’s intention is that the Waterfront Access for All Task Force make specific recommendations to inform decision-making from the ground up and help make community participation in waterfront development, access, and programming stronger and more effective. This strong civic voice is needed to ensure that investments in waterfront amenities, development, and resilience are made equitably and without aiding displacement, prioritizing vulnerable low-income communities in the floodplain. We have convened 100+ stakeholders in a Public Access for All Task Force to inform policy, legislation, and funding.

  • Harbor Scorecard

    See how your community measures up for waterfront access, water quality, and coastal flood risk

  • Design Better Waterfronts with WEDG®

    A technical service offered to designers, developers, engineers, and other professionals

  • Maritime Activation Plan

    Work with us to redefine the potential of your waterfront!

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