Two Sunset Island property owners are pursuing a lawsuit to enforce their claim of title to a strip of land in their yards which the town and county claim is common land. The route of a proposed new sewer runs through that land.
Kathleen E. Casey, a Hartland attorney, and another island property owner, Anthony L. Stashak of Lockport, claim years of use have established their title to the land. It is designated on old maps as Maple Grove Park, although it seems to have belonged to a woman who died without children in the 1920s.
The defendants in the title suit are the woman's possible distant heirs, the town, the county, and the Sunset Island Colony Association, a homeowners' group.
Four weeks of publication of a legal notice seeking the possible heirs are due to end April 8. Mrs. Casey said 30 days after that, she and Stashak can ask State Supreme Court Justice Jacqueline M. Koshian to issue a deed.
Mrs. Casey said if successful, the suit would give her and Stashak clout to block the sewer project by refusing to sign easements for the work.
Wilson Town Attorney F. Warren Kahn said the town is not contesting the title suit, but intends to countersue to take the strip of land through eminent domain if Stashak and Mrs. Casey won't sign easements.
Robert L. Laney, president of the Colony Association, said he signed a blanket easement on behalf of all affected property owners, but a few objected, including Mrs. Casey and Stashak. "It's unfortunate that all 83 of us weren't pulling in the same direction," he said.
Mrs. Casey said, "Once we have title to the property, that invalidates that part of the easement."
The Lake Ontario island contains 83 cottages, used primarily as seasonal residences. The Niagara County Health Department is pushing the town to construct a sewer system to replace the current septic tanks, which the department says discharge directly into the lake.
The state is planning to open a swimming beach and bath house in Wilson-Tuscarora State Park, just west of the island, and fears that the septic discharges could foul the beach and swimming area.