IN October last year Nowra solicitor and business proprietor David Nagle wrote a letter to council putting the organisation on notice that the state of the footpath in Berry Street was a danger to the public.
On February 6, Beryl Lahene from Sussex Inlet fell over while walking along Berry Street to take her husband to the Standish Medical Centre.
She landed heavily on her knees and face, smashed her glasses, grazed her cheek and said she could not move for about 15 minutes.
“The pain was absolutely excruciating, and I’m going back to have an X-ray on Monday because I might have a broken bone in my foot.
“The lass from Nowra IT, Tina, came out and helped me and then called the ambulance, she was wonderful.
“The whole thing was just surreal.
“While I was on the ground one lady stopped by and said, ‘Darling, don’t worry about going to council. I fell in that same spot and when I told them they said I should look where I’m going.’
“I did write a letter to council about it and it was completely ignored, I never heard back.
“Now I feel I’ve stirred up a hornet’s nest. But if council had replied to my letter I would have let it go but they ignored it and that got right up my nose.
“I’ve engaged a solicitor and it was council’s lack of acknowledgment that caused me to do that.
“I think Nowra is so sad. If we have the option we got to Ulladulla to do our shopping,” she said.
“Joanna Gash did phone me on Friday morning.
“She said she was extremely sorry that nobody had replied to my letter, and that she would be looking into things,” Mrs Lahene said.
Mr Nagle’s letter in October said that the footpath represented a patchwork of old and new bitumen, concrete and pavers which were uneven and cracked.
“I specifically put council on notice that it represented a danger to the public,” he said.
“I subsequently learned in the ensuing months that a number of other people had fallen as a result of the defective footpath.
“I had the opportunity to listen to Mrs Lahene and council’s general manager Russ Pigg on the radio on Friday. Mr Pigg’s comments simply seem to echo that a committee will be formed to review another committee’s decision who will then refer it to yet another committee for comment.
“It is disturbing to dismiss the concerns of business proprietors, the safety of residents and particularly the elderly and those who cannot negotiate uneven surfaces,” he said.
Not all those who trip on rough paths are elderly.
Linda Nykolyn from Nowra is five months pregnant and recently tripped on uneven pavers.
“I was falling face first but twisted so I didn’t land on my stomach.
“This is my partner Nathan’s first baby and we were both scared.
“I went to the doctor and he sent me off for an ultrasound.
“Thankfully our baby is all right.
“Nathan phoned council about it that day and they hung up on him,” she said.
Shoalhaven Mayor Jo Gash said she was upset when she learned that nobody at council had picked up the phone to talk to Mrs Lahene.
“I phoned her on Friday and she appreciated that,” Mrs Gash said.
“Communication is not good in council and it is something that is very high on my agenda.
“I am a firm believer that you should let the community know what you are doing and why you are doing it.
“We know that footpath is bad and to say we have to wait for the budget, well I’m sorry that section has to have priority.
“I don’t know where this fell down but there has to be a standard set and that standard to date has not been met.
“I don’t think people realise the increase in rates, if we get it, is going to roads and footpaths and the deficit will come from in-house with cuts we’re going to make,” Mrs Gash said.
Council staff were replacing pavers in Berry Street on Friday.