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MONTICELLO, NY — With numerous residents in Orange County protesting loudly against the development of the Legoland® Theme Park in Goshen, the chair of the Sullivan County Legislature thought it would be a good idea to invite the company behind the proposed park to Sullivan County.
On October 27, Luis Alverez sent a letter to Merlin Entertainment that said, “I am eager to have a dialogue with your company about the potential for a Legoland project in Sullivan County. The county and all of our economic partners are willing to do what it takes for a Legoland project to be a success here.”
The proposal for the project to be located on 153 acres just outside of the Village of Goshen would include a 250-room hotel and, eventually, a Sea Life Aquarium. The facility is geared to attract families with children aged two to 12, and is expected to attract 1.5 to 2.5 million visitors per year.
The proposal for the Goshen project has spawned many critics who are concerned about impacts on traffic, the environment and water. There is an online petition detailing opposition to the project. The petition at www.change.org says, “The noise and air pollution and tremendous traffic congestion, use of limited water and tapping into Goshen Sewer system threaten our way of life.”
But there is also an online petition supporting the project, www.standunited.org, which says, “A small group is trying to block the project out of selfish ignorance and no fundamental reasoning or facts. Many are for this project, but the handful fighting is very loud and trying to keep the area in a backwards state.”
The land-use battle, like many others before it, has seeped into local politics and prompted one resident who lives near the proposed site, Annmarie Rolo, to run for a seat on the Goshen Town Board. Rolo, who is a member of Concerned Citizens for the Hudson Valley, which is fighting the project, is running against incumbent Melissa Gallo.
The project has already accomplished some important steps such as completing a preliminary approval for a deal between Merlin and the Village of Goshen under which the village supplies water and sewer services in exchange for about $900,000 per year.
The Town of Goshen, meanwhile, is working on a “commercial recreation overlay zoning district,” which, when and if adopted, will allow Legoland to open; the current zoning conflicts with the Legoland plan.
Before moving ahead with the plan, Merlin must also complete a rather lengthy draft environmental impact statement.
If the zoning change is adopted and other approvals are granted, Merlin would like the theme park to open in 2019.