This time it’s for real: As numerous area outlets have been reporting over the last week, something big, plastic, and colorful is coming to the Hudson Valley. Legoland, the theme park dedicated to those tiny building blocks that empower the imagination, scrape our feet, and help us erect hundreds of mini-cities in our living rooms, may have finally found a permanent New York home in Goshen. Orange County executives and reps for Merlin Entertainment, which owns and operates Legoland, have confirmed that nearly 300 acres of land off Route 17 are being sized up as the site for the company’s third such U.S. amusement destination.
Up until these latest developments, it appeared a Hudson Valley Legoland was doomed as an ambitious proposal that could never materialize due to size, cost, and location concerns, epitomized by several false starts over the past couple years. So to help put all this in perspective, we constructed a timeline of how Lego went from preliminary investigation of the region two summers ago to Merlin’s pending go-ahead to build in Goshen.
- August 2014: Legoland officials begin taking an interest in the abandoned Letchworth Village in Rockland County. Haverstraw officials announce that they would be working with representatives, but the two sides can’t come to an agreement.
- December 2014: Legoland receives a $3.1 million state grant from the Regional Economic Development Council to help fund the anticipated project in Haverstraw.
- October 2015: Haverstaw residents express their frustration over the possibility of a Legoland in their town, citing concerns over traffic, costs, and increased property taxes, and by signing an online petition titled “Say NO to LEGOLAND in NORTH ROCKLAND.” It receives more than 1,000 signatures.
- October 2015: The Haverstraw Town Board tosses out the project after hearing from angered residents. Orange County swiftly expresses their interest in the project.
- December 2015: New York State awards another $1 million grant for Legoland’s plans.
- January 2016: Legoland visits Orange County but cannot find a suitable location that meets their requirements.
- February 2016: Legoland officials look into 167 acres of property in Suffern that previously was the location for Novartis, a closed pharmaceutical plant.
- March 2016: Residents express similar concerns as in Haverstraw over tax increases, in addition to possible financial burden on the Town of Ramapo.
- April 2016: New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D) throws his support behind an Orange County site, and Legoland is reportedly still considering a number of options.