It was hot, crowded, and full of tension last night at the Orange County Emergency Services Center, where hundreds of supporters and skeptics filled the auditorium to hear from Legoland executives as they laid out their plans for a new, $500 million Legoland amusement park in Goshen.
The meeting was led by John Ussher, General Manager of Legoland Development, who addressed what he felt were the community’s major concerns: traffic, public opinion, and noise. He assured the latter would not an issue, as they only plan to build on 153 of the 523 acres they’re looking to purchase, creating a natural barrier between park activity and members of the Goshen community. “The ambient noise of Route 17 will be louder than Legoland,” he went so far as to say. He added that Legoland’s mostly low-impact attractions catered more to children from ages 2-12 than rowdier teens.
Merlin Entertainment, which operates Legoland, hopes the project will be completed by 2019 and anticipates construction will create 800 jobs, an announcement met with approval by those in attendance. The park will operate seasonally, from April 1-Oct. 31, offering an additional 500 full-time, as well as 300 part-time and 500 seasonal job opportunities, upon completion.
Still, traffic stood out as antagonists’ foremost concern, and town board members openly expressed their disapproval for Ussher’s proposed plans, which include expanding Harriman Drive and adding additional lanes to Exit 124 on Route 17, which will eventually be marked as the primary Legoland off-ramp.
“I know your traffic engineers are still working on this, but I have to say I think it is woefully inadequate,” affirmed Goshen Village Board Trustee Michael Nuzzolese.
Everyone would agree that more planning is needed, and Legoland is required to conduct a mandatory environmental impact report before construction even begins. And while the public was not given an opportunity to directly address Legoland reps at last night’s meeting, they will soon—an open house is scheduled at the Emergency Services Center for July 7.