JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville is getting ready to demolish the old wooden structure of the Southbank Riverwalk next month and build a new concrete one, but for now it's still open and in disrepair.
Now the city is being threatened with a lawsuit because of the danger.
Councilman Don Redman, who broke his leg on the Riverwalk three years ago, said nothing has changed. Instead, he said it's only become worse. Redman said it's time to condemn part of the Riverwalk, despite the city saying it's safe.
"I still have a metal rod from my knee to my hip because of that," Redman said.
He said he was told the problems would be taken care of when he was hurt, and even though the city has plans for a new, safer Riverwalk, Redman said officials need to address it now.
DOCUMENT WITH IMAGES: Southbank Riverwalk gets overhaul
"I really am surprised, as dangerous as it is, we have not gone to the point of securing it to keep people off of it," Redman said.
The city is getting notice that it needs to be done. In the mayor's mail Wednesday was a letter putting the city on notice of a pending lawsuit. A woman was injured on the Riverwalk in June, and her attorney says the city is the responsible party.
"Basically, the boardwalk was in terrible condition," Robert Corirossi, the woman's attorney, said in a phone interview. "It's in deteriorating condition and as she was walking along. She tripped on an area where the wood was raised, causing her to fall down."
The woman ended up in the hospital, and her attorney said she is still getting medical care.
"Well, the city of Jacksonville has a responsibility to inspect and maintain the boardwalk as well as any other properties that they own," Corirossi said. "And it's my understanding that there has been a problem for years. The city has allowed it to deteriorate and the city is aware of the condition that it is in."
That's true. Channel 4 has documented the problem for more than 13 years, learning that maintenance and repairs were few and far between. Since then, some repairs were made, but now with $15 million set aside, the new Riverwalk should be open by next summer.
The city could not say how many lawsuits have been filed concerning the Riverwalk because it does not keep records by locations. But it did say there are one or two pending cases because of injuries.
There is no word on how many have been settled out of court.
Redman said he didn't sue.