SPARTA, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A 74-year-old woman has been stranded in her home for more than two months.
She says she can’t leave the island she’s lived on for decades because a walkway was removed.
The island in Lake Grinnell in Sparta looks like a pleasant place to call home, but long time resident Leigh Donnelly said lately, it’s been anything but pleasant.
“I’m past the point of cabin fever, believe me,” she said.
That’s because the last time Donnelly left the island was mid-December. For more than 15 years, her late husband maintained this walkway for them to make their way to shore during the winter months. She said the Lake Association demanded it be taken down because it was a liability.
Leigh has a friend who has been helping her out. He was more than willing to go on camera, but it was too dangerous, so he spoke to CBS2 over the phone.
“They chopped it up into a million pieces, so we couldn’t put it back together again,” Danny Van Orden said.
The Lake Association President said it’s unsafe, and as of the last few seasons has been poorly maintained. It also leads to the railroad tracks, another dangerous spot.
Until the lake froze over, Van Orden was using a kayak or raft to make their way to land.
“I’ll tell you, thank god it was so cold for so long, or I never would’ve been able to get out of here to get us food and water,” he said.
He claims he told the Lake Association they’d be willing to compromise.
“Any of our friends or relatives, they would sign a waiver that if anything happened to them the Lake Association isn’t going to get sued,” he said.
Donnelly said something has got to give.
“I can’t afford a second home. I’m 74, I get social security, this is what I live on,” she said.
She said she will continue to fight for what’s always been hers.
The town said since the bridge was put in and taken out each year, a permit is not needed. The decision was the Lake Association’s.