GOSHEN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Plans to build a family amusement park based on Lego toys in the Tri-State Area are getting ripped apart piece by piece.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, some Goshen residents worry about what the proposed Legoland will do to their community.
Retired Port Authority police Officer John McLoughlin moved to the rural Orange County community before he was famous. He is a hero of 9/11 and was played by Nicolas Cage in the 2006 Oliver Stone disaster drama “World Trade Center.
McLoughlin rarely speaks in public, but said he feels compelled to take a stand against a proposed Florida-style Legoland amusement park in his little town – complete with a hotel, water slides, and lots of tourists.
“It’s David against Goliath here,” he said. “I feel we’re in a position – it’s either fight or flight.”
Merlin Entertainment focused on Goshen after passing on two other Legoland sites in neighboring Rockland County – first Haverstraw, then Suffern. A Goshen Legoland New York welcome center is already under construction, and permits are being processed for the amusement park.
McLoughlin and his neighbors have hired a lawyer and are suing to stop slow down the process.
“It’s such a huge project,” said Chris Miele of Goshen. “It’s going to eat up our town, and I think that’s what we’re very worried about.”
The developers like the site because of the highway access with Route 17 running alongside it. The site is more than 500 acres and expected, in season, to attract more people that actually live in the area.
Opponents say it is much too big and happening too quickly.
“It usually takes two and a half years to get to where they are,” said Debbie Corr of Goshen. She said Legoland has moved ahead with its plan in less than six months.
The town said the speed is the result of Legoland’s extraordinary level of organization. Supporters called it the kind of growth the area can handle.
“We’re talking about children. We’re talking about hours that don’t run late into the night,” said Legoland supporter Carol Cullen.
“I can guarantee that I could stand with you in front of the church across the way in five years’ time,” said Phil Royale of Merlin Entertainment. “Nothing is going to change.”
But McLoughlin is not in a mood to wait.
“We’re trying to protect our way of life,” he said.
Legoland hopes to break ground in March and open in 2019. The town board considers zoning changes and permits next week.