A proposal to build a $500 million Legoland amusement park in Goshen received important approvals last week in a 4-1 vote from the town board, bringing the third such park in North America closer to construction in Orange County.
The Goshen Town Board voted at its Sept. 14 meeting to approve amendments to its comprehensive plan and zoning law that allow for the project. The votes come more than a year after Merlin Entertainments PLC, the British-based, American-owned developer of Legoland, first proposed the park in June 2016.
While the company will still need additional approvals, including its site plan, Merlin is targeting a 2019 opening date for the 153-acre amusement park. Plans calls for a 250-room hotel and more than 50 rides, shows and attractions for children ages 2 through 12 on a 523-acre plot of undeveloped land off Route 17 in the town.
Merlin says the park could attract 10,000 to 20,000 daily visitors during peak season and create 500 full-time jobs and 800 part-time jobs once it opens. The project has been awarded more than $6 million in state funds through New York’s Consolidated Funding Application process. It is identified by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council as a priority project.
But Legoland New York has also raised concerns in Goshen, home to about 14,000 residents. Opponents have protested the project’s impact on traffic, the town’s resources and the environment.
Those concerns have been heard in a series of extended public hearings, including the Sept. 14 meeting, which reportedly stretched to nearly three hours. They have also been heard in court.
While one lawsuit challenging the project was dismissed earlier this year, the project could face additional legal challenges, according to an attorney who represents opponents.
Michael Sussman, attorney to the grassroots group Concerned Citizens for the Hudson Valley and a group of residents near the proposed site that filed the first challenge, said in February that his clients would challenge the project again if approved by the town. Sussman reiterated to the Middletown Times-Herald Record on Thursday that he planned to file the lawsuit once the project received approval.
Following the vote, Merlin officials praised the town board and talked up the positive impact the amusement park would have in Goshen.
“We believe the town board’s decision is recognition of the tremendous benefits that Legoland New York will have in Goshen and the surrounding Orange County communities,” said John Ussher, senior divisional director of Legoland Development.
“We look forward to continuing this process and hope to be able to bring LEGOLAND New York to Goshen subject to the other necessary approvals being obtained,” Ussher said.