The Legoland issue has been debated on these pages and publicly over the past few years and I wanted to call our community’s attention to yet another inconsistency in how our elected town officials are treating the developers.
Billed as a major economic win for Goshen, Legoland was to drive growth and have a positive impact on the surrounding area.
However, we continue to struggle with accountability and protecting our town’s resources.
First, a piece of history: In April 2018, the Town was approached by the developer (Merlin) to buy a piece of town property in order to build an 18’ berm but plans changed.
Fast forward to November 2020: At the Town Board meeting on Nov. 12th, Supervisor Bloomfield asked the board to modify the contract with Merlin to allow them to build this berm on the property owned by the Town of Goshen. It was stated that the purpose of this berm was to mitigate the sight and noise pollution that will negatively impact the residents of Arcadia Hills.
On Nov. 20th, I visited the site to learn more about the property in question and the plans. Much to my dismay, not only was the berm already built, has been landscaped and is not a proposed project but a finished one.
The sight of a completed project immediately caused me to ask (perhaps rhetorically): “Why is the supervisor bothering to ask the Town Board to vote on the motion for a project that has already been completed?”
Is this asking for permission or seeking forgiveness?
The Town Board met again on Nov. 23 with the motion once again on the agenda. During this meeting, I asked who gave the developer permission to build the berm on Town of Goshen property.
If our established process had been followed, it would have required a formal plan and taken the appropriate time to consider and approve the use of land owned by the Town. Not to mention, this type of project would have taken months to build, yet no one knew how this project materialized.
Why is it that Merlin did not build it on the 500 acres they own for the Legoland project? To this question, I received no answer. I followed up with the question, “What would anyone do if a neighbor built a berm on their property without permission?”
Again, there was no answer. I am afraid that we find ourselves in a predicament where the developer was able to proceed without any of the legal, environmental and zoning checks and balances. To top it off, they were allowed to do this for free.
I return to the assumption that Legoland was sold to the Town of Goshen as an economic engine.
However, who is benefitting?
Is it the developer who did not have to pay a penny for a project on town land or is it the citizens of Goshen?
The Town Board was told this project was a way that Merlin was trying to help the residents. I find this to be an absolute mockery and insult to the community as it would cost tens of thousands of dollars for the developer to haul the dirt off the site.
Additionally, Merlin has yet to submit a project design or address how they will handle the water runoff from the creation of this berm.
In conclusion, I believe this is just another of many broken promises made to the residents of Goshen. We have been told to believe they are good neighbors, but I ask you, “Would a good neighbor build a project on your property, without paying for it, and not need a permit?”
I can only surmise that our neighbor, Merlin, gets whatever they want.
Kenneth F. Newbold Sr.
Goshen Town Councilman