Stupid Development, explained

| 19 Jul 2019 | 12:32

    To the Editor:
    Stupid Development has become an art form in this county. One Stupid Development we all encounter is traffic lights — which turn placid intersections into commercialized parcels complete with Dunkin Donuts, Sunoco, and other life-degrading features of modernity. The damage is more than gastronomic: traffic lights cause delays in getting around town, plus noise, light and auto exhaust pollution. All of us in Orange County can think of other examples of Stupid Development. Plainly, Stupid Developers are in it for the money. But more often than not, they degrade our environment in the process.
    In Goshen, we're now seeing Stupid Development on a grand scale, courtesy of a giant developer, The Blackstone Group, whose plans are so large in scope and complexity that we can't predict all of the collateral damage they will impose on our community. Worse, large parts of these plans are purposefully hidden from our view. The Blackstone Group has many sub-companies, such as Merlin (Legoland), plus a multitude of inns and hotel chains, energy, hedge fund and predatory home rental divisions.
    The first hint of a problem for our region was Blackstone's selection of Goshen as the site for Legoland. The Legoland project will bring us all the problems typical of development – but on a much larger scale. The question is: why did Blackstone pick Goshen, given its severe traffic limitations?
    Blackstone currently enjoys the largess of local, county and state authorities in the form of pilot programs, grants, taxes in lieu of payments, and sales tax kickbacks. Not only that, but the state is building a new interchange on Route 17 for Legoland. This seems intended to put a huge volume of additional vehicles onto an already critically overloaded Route 17 at exactly those times when traffic congestion is at its peak. What were they thinking? As it turns out, Blackstone was thinking that traffic congestion may actually benefit them.
    Legoland is not Blackstone's only project; through its sub-companies, they also are constructing huge numbers of hotel rooms along the entire Route 17 corridor. Transforming Orange County into one big traffic jam begins to make much more sense if their intention is to fill up those hotel rooms.
    "But wait — there's more!" We live in a time of environmental crisis unparalleled in our history. Climate destabilization driven by resource consumption is upon us. This human activity must change – or nature will change it for us, possibly by our extinction (including Stupid Developers). Legoland is just one of many projects Blackstone has around the country and the world. Much of their business revolves around increasing traffic (thereby increasing greenhouse gas emissions) while also mowing down vast tracts of woodland. This makes Blackstone a uniquely bad actor for our environment.
    Fighting Legoland is not just about preserving Goshen — it also means doing your part to maintain a livable future for your children. We could just give up and say the Stupid Developers won. But what could be more stupid than that?
    John Harragin