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.

Comments (5)
  1. einpaladin says:

    This project, coupled with the 30 year pilot, tax incentives, etc is a horrible idea for Goshen. If they truly wanted to be a part of our community, why doesn’t Merlin agree to pay their fair share? To accommodate it, the county and local taxes will need to increase. Add in pollution, traffic, noise, and environmental concerns and the project becomes even more unattractive.

  2. The proposed project is not a good fit for Goshen.

  3. This town has roughly 14,000 people and the amount of people they are talking about bringing here daily is astronomical. Two to four thousand cars per day! Goshen is not a tourist location. We are not equipped to handle the volume they are speaking of on a daily basis. This town is a quiet, historical town. What I don’t get is how our town supervisor along with our town board turned down a project for housing at the same location and stated that Goshen did not have the water. In his words Supervisor Bloomfield said, “One of things about Goshen is the historic charm and beauty of our community. Bringing in more traffic is a deterrent to the quality of life. Water has always been an issue. We don’t have an overabundance of water”. He said that on April 25, 2016 and two months later, he is welcoming Merlin entertainment and entertaining the idea of this as a possibility to build on that same parcel? That is when I became even more interested in finding more information on this project and noticed the speed of how fast things are moving which leaves me to wonder just how is this possible? Why does it take other projects of smaller size two plus years to even get approval and yet although this has not been approved it is moving along at record breaking speed. Sadly, my husband and I are left to wonder what exactly is going on? The area is also on a hill adjacent to a retirement community on one side and a development with homes on the other. What about the water run off by removing of wetlands? What about the noise level? They can say one will not hear the park but where I am in Goshen I can hear the race tracks in the town of Middletown which is one town over on Summer nights. Traffic will be a nightmare! As it is 17 has major traffic in the summer time and yes, it’s commuters but they have to commute to work and this amusement park will cause major backup on 17. They talk of expanding 17 but we are not even in the plans for NYSDOT to do any repairs for the next several years. Who will pay for these road expansions and upgrades? Not Merlin entertainment. They are looking at Orange County to pick up the cost. I have nothing against amusement parks. I have two children one of whom played with Legos but the location is just a horrible spot. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Something is just not right here with our boards and if this project is approved our quality of life and our town will be lost.

  4. The way the project has rushed through to a clearing and grading permit on the table with a DEIS accepted and zoning laws to change the master plan feels like they are planning a three ring circus for Dec 15. It has been disconcerting and nerve wracking for those of us who live next to the proposed site. It needs to slow down. Or just go away.

  5. Truly Merlin/GIC/legoland could not have chosen a worse site within the Moodna Watershed, Wetlands, Scenic and Stream and Reservoir overlay, the Otterkill Creek runs right through it, which legoland ignored on their maps. Merlin plans on clear cutting 180 acres of trees which will displace and kill hundreds of species of animals. This proposed site is known as ECHO Ridge, because noise echoes from this area and will be heard in the Town and Village of Goshen. On the EAF Application it says there will be no noise, that is a Lie. Legoland will pollute our air from the 2000 to 4000 cars daily. Light pollution from construction, the rides, parking lot and hotel will change our night sky and wildlife forever. Will the residents in the neighboring community of Arcadia and in the Town of Goshen be compensated for the loss in value of their homes? Goshen’s town zoning prohibits amusement parks, yet the Town board of Goshen has moved ahead getting ready to put in place a commercial overlay that will enable this amusement park to have the zoning it will need to open up shop to make hundreds of millions dollars annually; while the taxpayers of the town and village are expected to pay for increases for police, fire, roads and EMS. NYS taxpayers are expected to pay for all road improvements to Legoland to get its attendees to their park so they can make millions. While offering pennies of what Legoland should be paying, The offer 1+million to the schools could be taken from the aid that we get then realizing zero for the schools. Legoland wants to be a good neighbor? Good neighbors pay their fair share of taxes, Good neighbors Legoland don’t ask for a Pilot of 30 years and then plan to renegotiate in year 31 never expecting to pay taxes on their assessed value that we have too. Legoland belongs in a commercial zone, there is this very site in Newburgh that just become available and another site by Woodbury Commons (Nepera); these sites are off of the NYS Thruway. The truth is Legoland/GIC/Merlin is here to make money and lots of it they do not care what it will do to our town, our taxes, our wetlands and wild animals or our quality of life.

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