Giant crowd turns out for Legoland presentation

Representatives called Goshen 'perfect' for a new theme park, with good access and 'lots of trees'

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  • Julie Estrada and John Ussher discuss the Legoland Park they're hoping to bring to the Town of Goshen (Photo by Geri Corey)

  • Site map of the proposed Goshen project

Biggest concerns

Noise — Low impact attractions, completely enclosed to keep noise and visual level down, Ussher said more noise is heard from Route 17 than from the park, no fireworks or concerts;
Traffic — Traffic flow opposite direction and later than commuter traffic, guests on the road after 9 a.m. (park opens at 10 a.m.) and leave at 8 p.m. when it closes, closes at 6 on off-season, biggest road improvement needed for Harriman Drive;
Visuals — All large, mature trees will remain for noise reduction and screening, 2000’ buffer of all wooded land to Arcadia Hills, 600 feet from nursing home, only one monument sign when guests drive in, lights only on at night for safety — none on in the parking lot, environmentalists already checking for turtles, frogs and other wildlife on the property;

By Geri Corey

— It’s all about fun. Legoland Parks are created to offer a playful learning environment for children and their fun-loving families, said John Ussher, Service Divisional Director with Legoland Parks, which wants to build a theme park in Goshen. In fact, he said, “lego” means "play well" in Danish.

Ussher, and Legoland’s Media Relations Manager Julie Estrada, presented their plans to build a Legoland Park to the Goshen Town Board on Tuesday night, June 14, at the 911 Emergency Center on Wells Farm Road in the Town of Goshen. But even that accommodation wasn’t large enough for the crowd that came to hear the presentation. All seats and standing room were occupied, with the overflow crowd spilling out into the lobby.

Those who made it into the auditorium heard a project overview that was well organized, thorough and highlighted by a power-point presentation and a short movie giving details about the park.

Owner and operator of Legoland Parks, Merlin Enterprises, plans to develop 153 of 523 acres on Harriman Drive to create the third Legoland Park in the United States. One is in California, and the other in Florida. There are eight Legoland Parks worldwide.

“We have great rides, fantastic shows and amazing accommodations,” said Ussher.

On site will be a 250-room child-friendly hotel focused on Lego themes, like pirates or knights. Each room has two bunk beds and a trundle bed for the children, with parents lodged close by but with their own space. The hotel will be open all year; the park from April through the end of October.

“Legoland Park has 18 theme areas, 50 attractions, offers what is unique, and puts kids at the heart of the attractions, many of which are interactive,” said Ussher, naming “driving school” as one of the favorites. Children actually get a driver’s license after maneuvering a child-sized car through streets.

“Parents watch their kids go through driving school and get nervous when they don’t follow the rules of the road," he said. "It’s fun to watch."

Children also have the opportunity to go to “boating school” and pilot their own boat.

“We have a lot of ‘firsts’ experiences for young children,” Estrada said.

The target age group for the park is 2 to 12, with children ages 7 to 9 as the “sweet spot.”

“Goshen is ideal," said Ussher. "It’s a resort destination, off-site infrastructure allows for good access, it’s pretty, it has lots of trees.

"We will solve problems that come along. We’re good neighbors.”

Ussher said there are "all kinds of business opportunities that the Legoland Park will bring to the area. It’s up to the communities on how they want to capture these opportunities. We’re very supportive of that.”

So, what’s next?

The next step for Legoland is to seek a zone change and approval from the Town of Goshen, complete the state environmental review, secure water and a sewer commitment from the village of Goshen; and obtain project incentives from Orange County and the State of New York.

The project has already received an Empire State Grant. Acreage for the project is currently “under control,” said Ussher.

Open house on July 7

A public open house is scheduled for Thursday, July 7, to provide the community with an opportunity to see the proposed park’s preliminary design concepts and learn more about the project, said a Legoland press release received this week.

“Most importantly, we would welcome the opportunity to become a new and respectful neighbor to Goshen and Orange County, and we promise to be sensitive of the beauty this region offers visitors who seek a variety of destination experiences,” Ussher said in the release.

What about water?

Legoland has no plan to build a water park in Goshen, said John Ussher, Service Divisional Director with Legoland Parks, at Tuesday's presentation.
Goshen has had chronic water shortages going back to more than a century. The problem is so bad that the village's emergency water is piped in from nine miles away.
Other Legoland facilities include pools and water parks, but the Goshen project will be an exception, at least for now. If Legoland decides to include one, it will submit a separate application, Ussher said.

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