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Stop Legoland Group Holds Forum In Goshen

A group that opposes a Legoland theme park proposed for Orange County held a forum Monday night. Roughly 100 residents attended to either lend their support in opposition or learn more.

Musician Alec Phillips of Goshen was strumming his guitar and singing a few songs before the forum began at CJ Hooker Middle School in Goshen.

After the forum, he shared a line.

“Don’t it always to go to show that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. Legoland be the death of Goshen,” sang Phillips.

He says people have been using the Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi” for years as a protest song against development.

“Well, Big Yellow Lego, I call it,” says Phillips.

Merlin Entertainments is set to invest half-a-billion dollars into the development of Legoland New York over five years, with plans to build on 123 acres of a 523-acre site off Route 17 in Goshen. Actor and activist James Cromwell believes Legoland would degrade the county’s quality of life with its large use of energy and water, among other things.

“And, it seems to me, it will change the nature of this community. There are communities in the Catskills that have hotels that are half empty and plenty of land to do this if they want to do that,” says Cromwell. “This is somebody’s, politician’s boondoggle in order to support CPV and in order to support the industrialization of this community.”

Cromwell, an Orange County resident, refers to the CPV Valley Energy Center site under construction in Wawayanda, Orange County, which he staunchly opposes. Josh Sommers is spokesman for Legoland New York.

“We certainly understand members of the community have concerns and we’re right at the very beginning of the environmental review process for Legoland’s proposal,” Sommers says. “And that’s going to provide ample opportunity for the public to ask questions and for Legoland to address them.”

Jessica Gocke is with Stop Legoland.

“We think that the proposed site makes no sense,” Gocke says. “The zoning, the environment, the socioeconomic issues that will result from them choosing a site in a residential district are going to negatively impact our area.”

Meanwhile, the Goshen Town Board has introduced two pieces of legislation to make Legoland possible. One is a proposed law amending the zoning code to create a commercial recreation overlay zoning district to allow a commercial recreation facility. The second is a proposed law to amend the comprehensive plan to allow for commercial/tourism recreation uses in certain areas. Mary Mirabella, with Stop Legoland, has lived in the Village of Goshen for 25 years and urges the public to attend a Goshen Town Planning Board scoping session for Legoland Thursday (July 21).

“This is the first meeting that will allow public comment so we want to encourage everybody to come and bring their concerns and bring their issues,” says Mirabella. “They don’t have to be Stop Legoland because there’s plenty of people that are still making up their minds. This is their opportunity to ask the questions that they have and the concerns that they want to address. We’ve only known about this issue for a month.”

Earlier in July, Legoland held a community open house and several residents said they supported the project that they believe will bring economic benefits to Orange County. Again, Legoland’s Sommers.

“Legoland has received enormous support from Goshen and members of the Orange County community," Sommers says. "And we look forward to creating a tourism destination that will bring lasting economic and quality-of-life benefits to our community.”

The proposed Legoland New York theme park would have more than 50 rides, shows and attractions and a 250-room Legoland Hotel. Legoland New York would be the third Legoland in the U.S., joining parks in California and Florida. If approved, it could open in 2019.

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