Island of Lake Grinnell residents say they’re trapped on the island

Posted: Updated:
SPARTA -

Two people who live on the Island of Lake Grinnell in Sparta year-round say that they are trapped on the island because the town took down their footbridge.

Danny Van Orden and Leigh Donnelly say that there is no way to get across to the mainland in the winter, especially when the ice is too thin to walk across.

Donnelly says that her husband used to maintain a temporary winter walkway over the lake until he died. Van Orden then built a new one, but the Lake Association had the structure removed because the residents lacked a permit.

Van Orden and Donnelly are sometimes able to cross the water in a kayak, but it is often time not safe to do so in the winter.

News 12 New Jersey spoke with Donnelly over the phone.

“This is where my husband and I lived for 24 years. Everything we own is in this house,” she says. “This is my house, this is my home. I'm not going to leave here."

The Lake Association president says that the bridge had to come down due to liability issues. A new one must be approved by Sparta Township officials.

“They told us to both get off the island. I had a place to go, I'm not going because of Leigh,” Van Orden says.

The Lake Association president also tells News 12 that it is not their responsibility to construct or maintain a bridge from the island to the mainland.

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