Who Wouldn’t Want a $500 Million Theme Park in Their Town?

Oct 01, 2021 · 217 comments
8theist (Vermont)
I can’t imagine a single person that would want to have a legoland in their town, other then the developers that make money off building it and a few selfish short sided parents that want their kids to “have fun”. I feel so sad and sorry for these poor residents that have to live in that community now that this monstrosity eyesore is built. Fast forward 5 years, as this depressing place falls out of favor, and let’s take a poll then.
MomT (Massachusetts)
As someone who has lived in cities that tourists love my whole life, I can understand why no one would "want" a theme park near their homes. But Legoland (at least the one outside San Diego) was awesome and everything about it screamed anti-Theme park when we were there (admittedly years ago). Limited numbers of people allowed in, decent food, family restrooms, recycling, nice places to sit and relax, areas for actual play for the kids. If they can repeat this in New York, it might be worth it for the area.
drcmd (sarasota, fl)
This is why we need a socialist system. The greedy capitalist Logo company from Denmark is ruining America in pursuit of profits. The government can design, build, and operate appropriate entertainment for the people. They do a good job in Cuba and North Korea, and the old Soviet had great entertainment for the people, who have plenty of time for such as they don't have to work. Move left Manchin, hard and fast.
apple annie (nyc)
They cut down a 300-year old tree to build this world of plastic.
AJ (Queens, NY)
Follow the money and one of the first places I’d look is Mr Bloomfield ‘s bank account. The deal and loopholes he helped legoland take advantage of show he wasn’t looking out for the people of Goshen.
Heart of Lightness (Kinshasa)
Glad it is not near me!
Zoned (NC)
The positive of becoming a tourist center is money pouring in for developers and hotel chains. The negative is reduced quality of life for the residents. It's happening in too many places. When I moved here almost 13 years ago, there was availability of restaurants, culture and nature for both tourists and residents. Over the years this has changed and we have become hotel city. The increase in hotels and tourists make residents feel this is no longer our downtown because we can't get into restaurants, cultural events and forget parking in the downtown (for whose upkeep our taxes pay). Most of the taxes garnered from the hotels must, by law, be used to advertise for tourism rather than infrastructure improvements necessitated by increased use. Where the roads were once well paved, tourism has brought congestion and filled them with potholes. The local paper touts the increase in tourism and how many dollars are being spent here. But money does not equal quality of life for the residents. How much is enough? Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't want to live anyplace else. But the quality of life is not the same.
Donna Gray (Louisa, Va)
This article could be written about much of rural America. Locals want modest development because that brings jobs. Otherwise, small towns die. Minimum wages many places top $15/hour. Retirees move to rural areas because they value the piece and quiet of dying towns. They have nice pensions, earned elsewhere, and don't have to worry about their children moving to find work.
Susanne Dermigny (Goshen, NY)
This article makes no sense to me. I have lived here my entire life and barely feel ANY effect of Legoland on Goshen, traffic or otherwise. It’s set off from the village on a property that was never previously used and can only be partly seen from the road. As time moves on of course traffic will increase, as it always does. I’m a realtor in the area and have a great sense of both new members and lifelong members of community and the comments in the article are just not accurate regarding interpersonal interactions between residents. There are some people who have complained as is the way with everything. Goshen is still a bucolic town and village with very friendly people. Communities change over time, and Goshen is more than capable of evolving with Legoland.
H (Oxon)
It is hard not to read this article and think that this is an example of a cause that got blown all out of proportion simply by virtue of people’s investment in it. The notion that “nothing will ever be the same” is nowhere more true than in the aftermath of the whipped up feelings of hatred that destroys the community. Extra traffic is for the weekend, but destroyed friendships are forever. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. As a side note, for those commenters concerned about Lego because it is plastic, I think it’s helpful to point out that the backbone of my Lego collection was inherited from a collection built in the late 1970s, expanded in the 1990s, and is now being used by my kids in 2021. I would like to see another toy of any material that has that kind of staying power. Lego is the opposite of a single-use plastic.
Joan (PA)
Excellent in-depth article, except that I was frustrated by one piece of information that was left unexplained: The author stated that the town had a rule that forbade a theme park, which the pro-Legoland group got around. I would be very interested in knowing HOW that was handled. Yes. it was likely a complex legal maneuver, but a brief summarizing explanation would have been appreciated.
barbara (santa cruz ca)
as the economist said the jobs will likely be low wage no future jobs. it says the property tax they gave up would have been more than what the park is giving them. increased water usage, the shops to come probably cheapo souvenir shops with more low wage jobs. cost of repairing infrastructure. loss of quality of life. doesn't seem like much of a bargain to me.
Jack (Florida)
"If you build it, he will come." Cheap Labour until the Union Comes to Town.
Concerned Citizen (USA)
I read this article out loud to my 7 year old son who is a huge Lego fan. It was a great experience for him to hear such a well researched article and interesting discussions about the pros and cons of what goes on behind the scenes to develop a theme park such as Legoland. The comment section was great too with so many different perspectives, all with their own merit. Thank you New York Times for providing such a fun learning opportunity for him. This is why I'm a long term subscriber! PS: I have a feeling my son would side with the rocker Chris Caffery and support Legoland in Goshen. In fact, we are now considering a trip to Legoland in SoCal soon after reading this article, perhaps camping in Joshua Tree National Park while visiting. We also love our green space and wilderness and understand the environmentalists sentiment of those who opposed the development. The paradox of progress, NIBYism and having your cake and eating it too. We get it! PPS: For those who want to dig deeper into Lego's history, we highly recommend the entertaining documentary "Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary".
John M (Elk Grove CA)
I grew up 40 miles away, and see the tough choice that folks on the periphery of the NYC Metro area are faced with. "Industry" usually means tourism, and tourism increasingly means gambling. Losing the race track was a blessing and a curse, too. But low-wage jobs and discounted "taxes" aren't going to make Goshen thrive. What's most obvious, even from the skimpy photos, is that this can't have been a reasoned choice of Lego management. The architecture and landscaping more resembles a cheap subdivision. Lego sculptures in hard-pan with worn-away grass? Lego art and resting places unprotected from the sun, and placed in boxy relation to each other, rather than creating mystery? However much it cost, this is a tacky façade, quickly assembled for maximum short-term profit. A decade from now, people passing the Goshen exit on the Interstate will wonder about the ghost-Lego park, and have more interest in its ruins.
Jeannine (Newport,RI)
I grew up in the subdivision that is next to Legoland. I probably went trick or treating at Mr. Gallo's home. One thing that this article fails to mention is that about 1/2 of the subdivision attend Goshen schools, and the other 1/2 attend Chester schools. So, about 50% of the residents of Arcadia Hills aren't getting any of the $61 million over two decades sent to their schools but they still have to deal with this in their neighborhood. My parents sold their home about 17 years ago and moved to Vermont where unlike Orange County all development is highly controlled. I sincerely hope that Legoland isn't hurting the property values in Arcadia Hills. I have fond memories of Cherrywood Drive!
Nicolas Benjamin (Queens)
I lost all sympathy for the citizens of Goshen after they allowed the demolition in 2015 of the Orange County Government Center, once of the world's finest examples of Brutalist architecture. Shame on them for not respecting their own history and their role in the global history of design.
Susanne Dermigny (Goshen, NY)
I also agree that Goshen does not cherish the Government Center and its contribution to global architectural history, but the original structure is still standing! It’s been fixed after the extensive damage from multiple hurricanes, and expanded with additions which were necessary for functionality.
Elizabeth (Portland, OR)
@Nicolas Benjamin I grew up in Goshen in the 70s and 80s and loved that building so much. It seemed to me the one forward-thinking thing in a very backwards town. As an adult, Legoland is the only thing that will bring me back to Goshen for a visit.
NYT Reader (Somewhere)
An earlier commentAtor, JC from Pennsylvania, wrote that Legoland had educational value, stimulated creativity and spurred children to think of architecture and construction as a life pursuit. Methinks this is the loophole that was used to build it. What do you think??
tom harrison (seattle)
I wonder if there was opposition to a horse racing track back in the day?
Old Soldier (USA)
Lego headquarters is in Denmark. Minimum wage in Denmark provides $44,000+ per year. Minimum wage in Goshen NY $12.50 provides about $26,500 per year. Healthcare in Denmark free. Healthcare in Goshen one arm and maybe a leg. Why didn’t the politicians, lawyers and so on, telling what a good deal Legoland was for the community, negotiate for the same wages and healthcare Lego workers get in Denmark? Answer, the wrong people would benefit from Legoland.
DblA31 (NY)
@Old Soldier surprisingly the article doesn’t touch on this, but Legoland isn’t owned by Lego. It’s owned by Merlin Enterprises, a theme park company
Curmudgeon51 (Sacramento/L.A.)
From looking at Goshen on Google maps, this Legoland is located some distance away from any population centers. Why? There are no apparent train stations, public transportation or similar services for getting to the amusement park. That means that every visitor can only get there by car. Putting these types of attractions far from any semblance of mass transit is another reason the world is suffering from global warming.
Steve Bohn (Upstate)
@Curmudgeon51 and they have the “bricks” (stones) to charge you $20 to park your car there for the day. And they charge you to get OUT.
Eric (Wilmington, DE)
@Curmudgeon51 According to Google maps, there is a train/bus route from "NYC, NY" to there with a .2 mile walk at the end. At just over two hours of estimated travel it's nearly twice as long than by car. I know it doesn't fit with the narrative of 'need more public transportation', a subject I also think is important. However, for some reason 'Bus Routes' aren't as much 'fun' as trains, so much so that people forget they even might exist.
DblA31 (NY)
@Curmudgeon51 not true. Busses go there directly from the Port Authority in NYC.
Mike (Rural New York)
Can’t wait for Facebookland, for adults who act like 12 year olds.
No name (earth)
traffic! minimum wage jobs! more traffic!
Ella g (NYC)
No idea why Lego would open a park in the middle of nowhere. I have nothing against Legoland and visited one myself years ago. It was in a converted factory and I remember the kids loving it. But this is what’s so wrong with this picture: “They found ways around a law that specifically banned amusement parks, and they offered Legoland a 20-year exemption from property taxes, plus $25 million in state funding to make the area more….” Why is it that developers and businesses get these huge tax breaks. Just because they offer people minimum wage jobs?
Bruce Maier (Shoreham, BY)
@Ella g I also worry about the tax breaks. Could there be underlying corruption? Like, how many Lego bricks did they offer the officials to change their minds?
Old Soldier (USA)
The saying "You can't fight city hall." exists because it is true. When lawyers, politicians, judges, property owners and so on stand to benefit from a project getting in the way will lead to frustration and likely cause trouble for those making too much of a fuss. When selling a project the connected always proclaim — the project will benefit the community. That proclamation should be taken with a grain of salt. That’s because the benefits of projects like Legoland, industrial parks, or policies like enterprise zones, mostly go to the connected. If the idea was to help the community why weren't living wages for people over 18 part of the negotiation? Or jobs for low income teenagers folded into the arrangement? Answer, the wrong people would benefit. A $4.4 million fee for 20 years is to be paid in lieu of property taxes. Want to bet the rules for accounting and spending the fees are different than those for property taxes? Three million dollars annually is projected to go to Goshen schools for 20 yrs. Will the money go to connected contractors and suppliers, or will it be used for teacher positions, training, pre school and other student skills programs and so on? Remember congress declared pizza a vegetable when it come to nutritious school lunches. That said, the 21 million will most likely feed pork pizzas to the connected.
Paul (New York)
It’s a great project for the community. Adds almost 0 kids to the school but pays 3 million a year to the schools. Way more then the undeveloped land. What would people prefer? Houses on the land? People like the Cuddys crack me up. They moved here 5 years ago, just shut up and move.
Ivan (Memphis, TN)
Small manufacturing plants are a thing of the past, no longer a realistic plan for the future of a town. All those small towns have choices to make. Should they wither away, as the young move out for better opportunities. Or be swallowed up and become suburbs of nearby cities (an option for some, including Goshen). Or hook into the service economy and become a tourist destination. Every town has to make its own decisions. They will all have battles with winners and losers. The losers will move away or become bitter. In a better functioning democracy all town would have an honest talk about this and candidates for office all clearly state what they stand for.
Eric (Wilmington, DE)
@Ivan Honest politicians navigate gray areas all day long, while reactionary ones deal in absolutes. Demanding that our leaders implement election slogans into law is both chaotic and always disappointing.
Sailaway (Irvine)
I took my son to Legoland in San Diego, the first week it opened. It is the anti-Disneyland. Hands on activities, lots of running around, and everything kid friendly. My advice is to get an annual pass and take your kids there in the afternoon for 4 hours. Families will have fun, and small kids with have a safe playful experience. Good clean fun, no crime and lots of parents with tired kids at the end of the day, who had happy memories at bed time. My kids and I loved it. PS get the apple fries with cream, delicious
Joe B (NYC)
Disneyworld = 25,000 acres. Legoland = 500 acres. Legoland NY is smaller than many golf courses and about the size of a good size church's bazaar. The few times I have approached the entrance gate I have not been impressed enough to pay the entrance fare.
Vivian (New York)
I drive on route 17W every weekend to my home in PA. You can barely see the park from the road and I've noticed absolutely NO increase in traffic.
Robert (Bruce) Wayne (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
If Goshen City Council believe Lego spent anywhere near $500M to build this, they need to hire a new auditor or check to make sure she is not on the Lego payroll.
India-CA (California)
All that plastic! What message is Lego sending to their young fans?
tom harrison (seattle)
@India-CA - I think every human child should be handed a very large box of Legos along with a 128-pack of Crayola's.
Jorge (USA)
Dear NYT: Legoland seems like a rather benign replacement for the cruel, gambling-driven sport of harness racing. Does this town have any other means of support, or jobs for young people? Would Goshen residents rather host a giant homeless encampment? We have plenty of folks to send you ...
Bolshevik Pamphleteer (Victoria, Canada)
Not at all symbolic of first world excess. Must be a stressful day for families. Nothing better than to relax afterwards with a 2000 calorie burger washed down with an extra large milkshake. Is the lead photo of the plastic ostrich meant to be allegorical?
MHB (Knoxville TN)
Native East Tennessean, my hometown County abuts the Smokies. Over my 57 years, it started with a quaint tourist town Gatlinburg which gave way to a theme park further out then came more hotels then outlet malls, so many outlet developments! Country music auditoriums came next and then go-cart speedway, bungee jumping, water parks, huge chain restaurants. Gatlinburg devolved into airbrush tee shirt shops, old timey photo set ups and now moonshine outlets. And before you knew it, every view from within the Smokies had a view of cabin developments. I say this with a straight face, Dollywood is the classiest development standing. May not happen with Legoland but I sure do miss my old east Tennessee.
Zenster (Bronxville)
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could live inside the world of a Lego set? Yes! Especially since the ecosystem is collapsing and the planet is burning up while..... 1. We go to LEGOLAND!!! 2. We fight about LEGOLAND!!!! 3. We are too exhausted from all this LEGO'ing to notice
SM (Pine Brook, NJ)
I bet legoland is out of business in five years. Maybe less
Oliver (Alameda CA)
No way. Do you have any clue as to how many adults are into Lego?
Janet Baker (Phoenix AZ)
The question should be “why would any town want a Legoland”?
Adam Stoler (Bronx NY)
Food for thought My older cousin is employed here at decent pay and benefits ( her description) Consider that she is a local resident and the pervasive ageism in hiring I’d call that a positive effect
Harris Silver (NYC)
Despite the naysayers it's very important to teach the next generation of kids about the importance of plastic and how they can't do anything without, it even be entertained. More plastic toys, more plastic bags, more plastic everything.
JC (Pennsylvania)
@Harris Silver Plastic isn't going anywhere. And Lego is a quality toy. People who support city bag bans, plenty of people opposed - now instead of bringing home an item in a bag and re-using it for garbage people are ordering cases of bags on Amazon. Things like bag bans don't accomplish much and all this hate towards plastic doesn't either.
Harris Silver (NYC)
@JC more than 90% of single use plastic is completely unnecessary. That fact is what is not going away either.
I would be interested in seeing the accounting of 500 million for this theme park. For a 2.2 million square foot data center spread across 500 acres loaded with hvac equipment, many generators, extensive electrical systems, miles of piping and facility sewage waste systems the price tag was 550 million. 500 million seems like a considerable sum for some colorful plastic and cotton candy machines.
Jack (NYC)
Small business owner here. Sure could have used a $25 million tax break.
JC (Pennsylvania)
@Jack How many additional jobs would you have created if you received it? What entertainment would you provide families? Should large companies receive large tax breaks no not necessarily but some people consider the positives that come from it.
Jack (NYC)
@JC the point is Legoland doesn’t need a tax break. They’d build it somewhere regardless. Give it to small businesses who actually need it.
Jeremy (Westward)
Fascinating article and photos. I cannot help wonder what the esteemed Noah Webster would say about this “Land”. This theme park reminds me of all the parking lots built over the last 5 or 6 decades, replacing the original movie studio structures in Los Angeles. As Joni so aptly said: Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone They paved paradise And put up a parking lot” Excerpt from the song Big Yellow Taxi © 1970 Joni Mitchell
achilli (Lewiston, NY)
There needs to be “right to be rural” laws similar to “right to farm” laws so residents who deliberately live in a rural community don’t continue to get chased out by developers bringing so-called progress with Dollar Generals, Tim Hortons, treeless subdivisions, storage facilities and especially a development like the uber-plastic Legoland.
Camille G (Texas)
I’ve lived in a small town. Those who were financially secure already fought against things like a fish farm, a chicken processing plant, a vacation cabin rental, and a railroad expansion. Yet they took vacations to “vacation spots,” they bought farmed fish in the Costco a 1.5 hour drive away. They just didn’t want it for THEIR town. Nevermind that some people in the town would welcome a fish farm job. Nevermind that some drove an hour east every day to work at the town that allowed the chicken processing plant to be built. As long as some people got to preserve their slice of heaven. Bigger picture, if small town retirees and the wealthy/secure keep doing this, urban centers are going to keep accumulating opportunities, attractions, and money like tornados. I often wonder whether they ever think about the bigger picture. In Legoland’s case in particular, I see some points of agreement with the protesters, first of all that Legoland is not all that successful, and Lego churns out more unrecyclable plastic every year. Yet, I also see people who would fight anything. They want the woods behind their house and the local working class be darned, I guess.
Joe (Orange County NY)
I grew up in Goshen and still live in the area. Interesting to me how people are talking about scare tactics that developers use to get projects done- and I’m sure there is truth to that. But decrying the loss of a bucolic countryside is also disingenuous as it belies the fact that everything one enjoys in these communities is a result of development. Lush open farmland and quaint historic downtowns had to be built and are the result of progress- it’s just progress from the 19th century. Goshen’s history is especially interesting in this regard- a harness racing town with a direct link via railroad to NYC, it enjoyed a lot of growth in that era from tourism and entertainment.
Sara (Wisconsin)
Legolalnd parks don't have a high success rate. Decades ago, we lived near Kiel, Germany where Lego had put up such a park. Lasted a few years and then morphed into "Hansaland", a pretty regular amusement park and eyesore. What has happened with the one near San Diego? Went there when the grandkids were small, but it wasn't that exciting. Hopefully, the park maintenance crew doesn't leave tiles around for visitors to step on.
Maureen (New York)
It is a safe bet that no affluent community would want this.
Margie Collin (Hudson Valley, NY)
Visited Legoland this summer with my grandchildren. I just wish they had left some trees.
MKP (Texas)
I wished they had left me home went we went to a Disney resort in Hawaii. Or at least in Maui!
Vince (Staten Island)
Who wouldn't want a theme park? 1970s Staten Islanders. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1976/11/18/75648536.html?pageNumber=47
Allan D (Atlanta)
Legoland first attempted to locate in Rockland County - Rockland didn't want it. That alone should have been a sign... Goshen is (or should I say "was") a very scenic, pleasant, charming exurban town just over an Northwest from NYC. It's even closer to the suburban employment centers in Westchester and Northern NJ. Many people commute. It's a fairly affluent community in many respects, and it is also the County seat of Orange County government. Median home prices run $400K and up, and property taxes are very high. It's not at all some economically deprived Upstate NY/Catskills backwater, as suggested in some of the comments below. The low-paying employment and additional traffic created by this "theme" park are simply not worth the long-term tradeoffs...And if the seat of the County government could not see the negative long term implications of this development, there is little hope for other locations that are not seats of local power. I'm glad I no longer live in that area. Orange County continues to sell itself off to developers far too cheaply, as it has done for decades. And don't think for one moment that these developments will lead to bigger things in the future, such as highly compensated white-collar jobs in office parks, or construction of construction of corporate headquarters such as those that were built in suburban counties a few decades ago...that simply isn't going to happen. Junk development simply attracts more junk development.
“Piece together” - very clever.
60hurtz (New York)
Park will be gone in 10 years due to lack of interest. Creating an run down eyesore in the area.
William Starr (Nashua NH)
@60hurtz It'll be fun to watch nature reclaim it though.
Paul (New York)
You can’t see it except in an airplane. There is a 150 acre buffer around it. I drive passed it all the time. Have not seen any traffic increase and can’t see it from t road. Might be gone in 10 years but can’t be an eyesore.
Old Soldier (USA)
The saying "You can't fight city hall." exists because it is true. When lawyers, politicians, judges, property owners and so on stand to benefit from a project getting in the way will lead to frustration and likely cause trouble for those making too much of a fuss. When selling a project the connected always proclaim — the project will benefit the community. That proclamation should be taken with a grain of salt. That’s because the benefits of projects like Legoland, industrial parks, or policies like enterprise zones, mostly go to the connected. If the idea was to help the community why weren't living wages for people over 18 part of the negotiation? Or jobs for low income teenagers folded into the arrangement? Answer, Most the wrong people benefit. A $4.4 million fee for 20 years is to be paid in lieu of property taxes. Want to bet the rules for accounting and spending the fees are different than those for property taxes? Three million dollars annually is projected to go to Goshen schools for 20 yrs. Will the money go to connected contractors and suppliers, or will it be used for teacher positions, training, pre school and other student skills programs and so on? Remember congress declared pizza a vegetable when it come to nutritious school lunches. That said, the 21 million will most likely feed pork pizzas to the connected.
Tamza (No Cal)
The same logic, with slight modification of proponents and beneficiaries, applies to the drug war, the war on terrorism, exporting democracy, foreign aid, even many non profits etc. Cynical? Maybe. But LARGELY true. [always SOME exceptions]
K Henderson (NYC)
Short version: this is an endless variation of a Walmart or a factory arriving to a depressed area of the USA. It will benefit some residents but not all residents. That is not new news to anyone. In this instance the park did not displace residents like so many malls did in the 80s and 90s. It seems like a win overall for the town even if not every resident will see dollars in their personal pockets.
Gwen (Minnesota)
In my opinion theme parks add nothing of real value to the world. They are like eye candy - a temporary sugar high. The only people they benefit are the ones who want to ‘make more money’. A typical American preoccupation. There are loads of fun things for kids to do, usually right in their local area which are much healthier, hands on things they can learn from while they have fun. Little kids find joy in so many ordinary things. They don’t need the constant overstimulation of endless video games or theme parks.
Tamza (No Cal)
Yes LOTS of fun thing for children AND adults. Right near home. Yet many of us move around ‘ie travel’ in guided tours to be able to say ‘I been there. I done that’.
JC (Pennsylvania)
@Gwen A lot of people seek overstimulation as a theme park for kids is the equivalent of a casino for adults. Could we find better healthy entertainment, yes. But, at times we still want to experience something else.
NicoleC (Northeast Atlanta Suburbs)
The author clearly stayed at the Legoland resort, enjoyed it, and was charmed by the bathroom voice greeting him as George Clooney. However, I, like some of the other commenters, would have liked to hear how the provision against amusement parks was circumvented, as well as what the ties were between lawyers, city government and park planners.
Tamza (No Cal)
This connection between various parties is age old. Check out the history of how the US Capital ended up in what today is called ‘Washington DC’.
BT (Washington, DC)
@NicoleC yes, exactly. There was a law specifically prohibiting what happened and it happened anyway. So where’s the journalism that tells that story? C’mon NYTimes, you can do better.
Lisa (Illinois)
So multi-billion dollar corporations promise a bunch of low paying jobs if they get incentives and don't have to pay property taxes. Same story so many places.
RGlover (Houston)
What's behind the decision to locate this facility in NY State? The other two US parks are in Florida and California. Just off the top of my head, central Texas would have been a better choice in terms of the winter season conditions of New York. The Houston,DFW/Austin/San Antonio triangle is a significant potential market for this, and likely with less local opposition, too.
Robert (Out West)
Does seem weird. My guess is, there’s another shoe to drop: something to do with, “development,” most likely. From what I can see, theme parks always want…more.
William Starr (Nashua NH)
@RGlover I'm not sure but I think a place like this loses a lot less business by being uninhabitable in the winter than in the summer, so maybe the Lego people took a look at global warming and decided that Texas was a good place for outdoor parks to stay away from.
Rachel (Brooklyn)
There needs to be a reason beyond the very obvious one of proximity to more than 1/3 of the nation’s residents? You can take a day trip here from New York City. Texas and California, not so much.
Peter Hansen (Sarasota)
When I was a boy almost 60 years ago, I went to the original Legoland in Denmark. My one memory was of sitting in the middle of a seemingly-infinite supply of bricks with the freedom to build whatever I wanted. It was a far cry from my personal Lego collection that fit in a small plastic bucket and which was, perhaps, the best toy I ever had. It’s a shame that the new Legoland is more about *looking* at things others have built.
Andre Hoogeveen (Burbank, CA)
There is so much going on here, but the tax abatement is one item that grabs my attention at the moment. Fair and consistent taxes—with predictability—are absolutely necessary to a functioning society. Everyone needs to participate.
Vin (NYS)
Many of the comments mention the fact that the park entrance is off the highway. Indeed it is, but there is much more than the park to consider. First, it's a 2 lane road, not a superhighway. It already is seeing heavy traffic, coming from casino's and destinations in the north. South of Goshen, there are large shopping malls in Harriman, and Monroe. The highway also connects to the NY State Thruway. Even before the pandemic, there was heavy traffic, and backups frequently occurred. Some improvements to the highway have been made, but I'm guessing, after covid, it will be worse. This may not seem like a big deal to folks who live in urban areas, you chose to live there, you have your reasons, but it does impact the surrounding area.
Bruce Williams (Chicago)
We have a much more expensive and silly theme park here, City Hall.
Andro (Canada)
A remarkable place, Goshen. Blessed with a monstrous theme park, but still no grocery store.
John (NY)
I used to live in Orange County, NY many years ago and decided to bail quickly. The whole county is corrupt at the top, especially Steve Neuhaus, who has been taking orders effectively from the strong religious interests of the Jehovah Witnesses and leaders of Kiryas Joel for years (neither group seems to pay any taxes). The fact that people feared a Hasidic influx is not unfounded. And while people may scream anti-Semitism, that seed is both planted by and manipulated as a scare tactic by the same politicians who ran through projects like Legoland. It’s sad because Orange County is beautiful in parts, but the environmental degradation approved and encouraged by self-serving pols is destroying it.
Rachel (Brooklyn)
Uh… the scenario you describe isn’t “scream[ing] anti-Semitism” (as in, loudly making claims of bigotry that probably doesn’t exist) - it actually IS anti-Semitism, on both sides… both from the supportive people using the scenario as a scare tactic, and the undecided or opposed people with whom they suspect that claim might be effective.
Legos are brilliant, creative and wonderful toys for kids. We love them in our house - the kids play with them for hours and build all sorts of things. Legolands --- eh. My kids love legos so I always consider bringing them to one, but they seem like overpriced amusement parks pushing a lot of Lego-themed, wasteful, unnecessary merch. We pass.
Paul (Massachusetts)
Mr. Bloomfield and his cronies "...found ways around a law that specifically banned amusement parks..." Why do these developers and state officials feel the need to go around a law? And when they do cheat around a public law; they even give the beneficiary cheater a plum tax break! Go around a law. I thought that was what criminals did.
As a former resident of Goshen, I am sad to se this happen to my old town.
Andrew (Manhattan)
That’s a lot of plastic for no real purpose.
Ann Berry (New York, NY)
Orange County is deeply red; you get what you vote for.
Me (Miami)
Old, cranky and Lonely people who don’t like children or people laughing will always try to shut things like this down. Stay at home and leave people alone to enjoy themselves……gee whiz.
Avram R (NJ)
@Me If you moved to a town like Goshen seeking peace and a beautiful environment, only to find a giant, garish theme park built right in your backyard you might feel differently. Rather than a benefit to the community, the park will diminish quality of life and reduce property values while avoiding all responsibility for paying its fair share of taxes.
LM (Hudson Valley, NY)
You forgot to mention that they chopped down magnificent 300-year-old trees, the oldest in the county, that dated back to George Washington’s time. A theme park shifts the vibe of the whole Hudson Valley away from nature and toward suburbia. I live a good 30 Mike’s from Goshen and am still just sick about it.
fFinbar (Queens Village, NYC)
Ironic. LEGO got is name from two Danish words, Leg Godt, which mean "Play Well." Seems the townies have a problem with that old chestnut, "plays well with other people." Their behavior reminds me of sign in a corporate conference room that read "Fight Nice."
xd (florida)
At least they didn't build it in Central Park.
JC (Pennsylvania)
@xd That might have actually made more sense since Manhattan is a tourist area anyway.
Bobaloobob (New York)
@JC But who needs more tourists?
Rich W (Vermont)
Just go a few miles away to the town of Woodbury and ask the residents there about Woodbury Commons built 25 years ago. Ask them about the value received in exchange for the enormous tax benefits given. Ask about the Manhattan style gridlock that exists there for six months each year. Ask about the overcrowding in the schools. You may find people there feel they made a deal with the devil. And the devil won!
Humphrey Tyler (Lyme, CT)
Brought up on a dairy farm that abuts the Legoland in Goshen, I am saddened to see the former farms, forests, and wetlands bulldozed into a paved theme park. However, it’s only fair to acknowledge that Goshen and central Orange County started the transformation from bucolic farm communities to a sprawl of suburban subdivisions, highway strip malls, enormous warehouses, shopping plazas and spaghetti-like freeway interchanges 70 years ago with the construction of the four-lane “Quickway” (US Rt 17) that connected the NYS Thruway to the dying resorts of the Catskills in Sullivan County. With the completion of I-84 a decade later, Goshen found itself inside a triangle of highway corridors that are at the crossroads of the vast transportation grid that forms one the world’s largest product distribution networks serving the Eastern Seaboard’s huge and growing markets. Given the weak - indeed, virtually non-existent - land use controls in NYS & the US, it was inevitable that the farms and woodlands of Goshen and surrounding communities would eventually disappear under the pressure of population growth and commercial development. The opening of Legoland is simply an episode in the most recent chapter of the story of the commercial and residential suburbanization of another once rural landscape of the Northeast. There are more chapters - more development, more loss of open countryside & wildlife habitat, more degradation of waterways and wetlands - yet to be written.
Ryan (California)
What was the law prohibiting theme parks and how did they get around? In five and ten years let’s have follow up articles. I’m sure the town will be grateful for the handful of low wage jobs and not getting property tax on the project.
Kirk C (Delmar, NY)
“…and you don’t what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. Take Paradise…put up a parking lot.” Beep beep!
Emeritus (Maryland)
Whatever the merits of Legoland this is certainly a display of mean spirited small town nastiness on a grand scale.
Furious George (Overseas)
Let me guess, more Democrats with the NIMBY syndrome...
William Starr (Nashua NH)
@Furious George Let me guess, more Republicans with "Nothing matters except money! Money money money money money!" syndrome...
Max Dither (Ilium, NY)
"Who Wouldn’t Want a $500 Million Theme Park in Their Town? ME. I can't think of anything more intrusive, gaudy, or undesirable than a theme park like this. No way would I ever support this in my home town. Of course, since it's in a different place than we live in... what the heck, we'll go once the pandemic eases up. But poor Goshen.
Overton Window (Lower East Side)
Having just opened, Legoland is "miles from anywhere" and just off the interstate. But wait a few years until that highway area is overrun with traffic to all the soon to come cheap motels, gas stations, strip malls and other 'service' providers trying to suck off the traffic to Legoland. The country is filled with wastelands like that... but hey, think of the (low paying) jobs created! (maybe.) The old town supervisor and developers who undercut existing laws and community opposition to push this wasteful ode to 20th century consumerism will be long gone, along with the environment they helped destroy.
Ricky (Brockton, MA)
@Overton Window Just look at Elmira!
Greg (VA)
@Ricky - It is impossible to follow this logic. Are you saying that little old Eldridge Park in Elmira was the cause of the city's decline? In reality, it was the lack of jobs that has kept the area stagnant.
EFh (Louisville)
Call me old fashioned but I absolutely hate theme parks, corporate franchises, digital apps and screens and especially tax breaks for big businesses muscling into my town. One day we will regret all of it.
Ricky (Brockton, MA)
It's shocking to me that Legoland choose to locate in Goshen, which seemed like a reasonably nice quiet town, instead of choosing any one of a number of absolutely awful moribund cities on the southern tier that are desperate for any economic development. I can promise you that there would be no resistance to bringing Legoland to Binghamton or Elmira which haven't see a tourist, economic growth, or an influx of citizens in five or six decades. But I guess those towns are in such a high tax, no jobs, horrible public education death spiral that even Amazon wouldn't consider putting a distribution center there.
Ed (Woodridge, NY)
For me, the most interesting line in the piece is: "Mr. Besterman declined to give attendance figures, but he said the demand for tickets had been strong, even with the pandemic." It makes me wonder whether Legoland will go the way of so many casinos that communities thought would be their economic salvation.
TC (Rhode Island)
It is maddening that towns and cities bribe these multi million dollar corporations to come to their towns. BRIBE them with tax breaks etc. so the town can get an employer with low paying jobs. Lego can well afford to pay its fair share to the community. The community can then use the tax funds to improve the community so it can attract companies that have good paying jobs that will attract and keep families in the town. I some how doubt that the average job at Lego Lands pays enough for a person to have a family and prosper.
gw (usa)
Those who say it's miles from anything and hurts nothing indicate a failure of American biology education. There is no such thing as "empty space." What is not human-developed is dwindling bird-wildlife habitat. So-called NIMBYs speak for a broad spectrum of species with no voice, no vote, of their own. Those who justify wreck-reation should check out E.O.Wilson's book, "Half Earth" for a true picture of the straits this living planet is in. But I doubt they will, for they don't care. What's worse, their children are unlikely to learn any better. A better idea: buy field guides and take your kids out in nature. Teaching kids awe for nature is an investment in respect and fascination that can last a lifetime, and benefit all, long after the frivolous entertainment of a plastic theme park wears off.
Ricky (Brockton, MA)
@gw I'd say Binghamton New York qualifies as empty space. At least for the last 40-50 years. There's not even enough residents to care about NIMBY.
TWM (Pennsylvania)
Bottom line: increased prosperity doesn’t translate into a nicer place to live. I predict the area will lose its rural charm fast. Tacky stuff. Family just moved away from the area. The kids loved Legoland and visited a few times. But the point about Legoland being a world away from building with Legos is a great point.
sdw (Cleveland)
There is always going to be competition between those who want to preserve a bucolic past of a countryside and those who want the excitement and job-creation which comes from development. The people who want to preserve the past are usually motivated by nostalgia, protection of an investment in their homes and guarding the natural environment. The stressful experience of Legoland in Goshen is no different. The job of town and county officials is to balance the competing interests, but across the country elected representatives seem to fall hook-line-and-sinker for the practiced spiel of the developers. There is always a suspicion of official corruption, although it usually is just a matter of official incompetence. In the bitterness of 21st-century America battle lines get drawn easily -- too easily.
William Starr (Nashua NH)
@sdw "There is always going to be competition between those who want to preserve a bucolic past of a countryside" My understanding is that they wanted to preserve the town's *present*.
sdw (Cleveland)
@William Starr I don’t want to split hairs, but in the minds of the most determined foes of Legoland the status over many years in Goshen would be — but for the recent amusement park — the “present.”
JDGold (Brooklyn)
Most compelling part of the article was how they managed to circumvent a law that is purportedly designed specifically to prevent this park from being built, but absolutely no explanation of that. Just another tale of the wealthy and powerful finding enough local hacks to get whatever it is that they want.
Michael (TX)
If businesses want to operate in communities and be a part of the community then pay property taxes like everyone else.
guyslp (Staunton, VA)
@Michael: Would that this were true. Municipalities of all sizes have been "giving away the farm" for years now, and it's another race to the bottom as far as giving away the tax base, or I should say shifting it back on local residents. Sadly, I can't see it stopping, either. There's always "someplace else" that's willing to buckle and give the developers what they want, over a course of decades, and by the time that deal is reaching its end they've made their money hand over fist. You just have to hope that the thing developed remains popular, or else it's often abandoned as soon as the sweetheart deal finishes up. (See major stadiums, as a perfect example).
Michele (The Wilds of De)
Sadly they aren't paying property taxes for 20 years. Not mention what the town spent too make Legoland happy.
Old Soldier (USA)
The saying "You can't fight city hall." exists because it is true. When those in power, lawyers, politicians, judges, property owners and so on stand to benefit from a project getting in the way will only lead to frustration and likely cause trouble for those making too much of a fuss. When selling a project the connected always proclaim — the project will benefit the community. That proclamation should be taken with a grain of salt. That’s because the benefits of projects like Legoland, industrial parks, downtown upgrades, etc. mostly go to the connected. If the idea was to help the community why weren't living wages for people over 18 part of the negotiation? Or jobs for low income teenagers folded into the arrangement? Most likely the wrong people would benefit. A $4.4 million fee for 20 years is to be paid in lieu of property taxes. Want to bet the rules for accounting and spending the fees are different than those for property taxes? Three million dollars annually is projected to go to Goshen schools for 20 yrs. Will the money go to connected contractors and suppliers, or will it be used for teacher positions, training and students educational programs, technology and so on? Remember congress declared pizza a vegetable when it come to nutritious school lunches. That said, the 21 million will most likely feed pork pizzas to the connected. So it goes in the land where money flows up hill to the connected.
Lou (Rego Park)
My main takeaway is not about Legoland moving into Goshen, but whether Lego is being a good neighbor to the community. Adding to the economy is good if it's not at the expense of the environment. 67 environmental violations and fined more than $600,000 doesn't sound like being a good neighbor.
L Hoberman (Earth)
I’ll never understand the lure of theme parks. There are so many amazing places to see and visit. But whether for or against, the issue should have been out to a town vote, in my opinion. My town recently voted narrowly against a development despite that the town board and others had approved it. I have zero concern about being called a NIMBY. And throwing that moniker around is unnecessarily provocative and just amps up the conflict. How about debate without name calling and a final decision made by the town residents?
William Starr (Nashua NH)
@L Hoberman "How about debate without name calling and a final decision made by the town residents?" You mean democracy? Nah, we don't do that here.
DS (Marbleheaded Massachusetts)
This sounds grumpy but such artificial environments can’t be good or properly stimulating in the long term. When we brought my daughter to Disney world she got bored in 24 hours and we wound up going to the pool. Our family much prefers visiting nature where we can actually learn something and not some hyped theme park.
K Henderson (NYC)
@DS. The typical child since forever and across every world culture loves playgrounds with swings and slides and parks with Ferris wheels and carousels. Honestly not sure what you are talking about. Indeed I can think of quite a few children in my life being bored out of their minds in a park with nothing but trees and trails and nothing else. ymmv
William Starr (Nashua NH)
@K Henderson "Indeed I can think of quite a few children in my life being bored out of their minds in a park with nothing but trees and trails and nothing else." True story: Hiked to the top of Mount Marcy (tallest in NY State) with my mother when I was about ten. Overheard what I guess we'd today call a tween-age girl complain to her parents "There's nothing up here but scenery!"
Moira Rogow (San Antonio, Texas)
@DS Kids love amusement parks, which is why they are all over the world. My kids have been to a small rundown soviet era one in Budapest and had a blast. This was after complaining that all we did was go to museums, true. Two kids under 6. Then we lived in Seoul and this had quite a few wonderful parks, such as Lotte Land, the first really professional park my kids ever visited, also Seoul Land, so much fun. Must also mention Everland, my daughter's favorite. We were big campers too. It doesn't have to be either/or.
K Henderson (NYC)
What the article does not say (and should) is that Goshen (like many places in or near the Catskills, is a place with a lot of struggling families and a lack of jobs of any sort. Surprisingly high property taxes too for a 300k house that needs repairs. It has been like that at least since the 1980s. Some NYer's come in for 2nd homes but that market (while it exists) is not substantial either. So you will see farms that get by with farm zone property taxes that are lower and a lot of houses with delayed maintenance issues. All things considered, Legoland would be a plus to any of these distressed areas.
John Chastain (Michigan (the heart of the Great Lakes))
It would only be a plus for distressed areas if a substantial portion of the wealth generated goes to the community disrupted by the project in the first place. Nothing in this article actually substantiates your premise that this theme park benefits the community more than detracts from it. To know these things requires the type of deep dive financial examination that communities like this are rarely equipped to do. For every dollar of value added there is a corresponding expense and the history of projects built on tax and funding gimmicks shows that the promise of value added to the community is rarely met in the long run. Honestly this strikes me as somewhat of a vanity project for the politicians who supported it. Other than low paying service jobs that are often seasonal and some economic spillover to a few local businesses this is not a win for a distressed area. Here in Michigan there are a number of tourist destinations, the attraction based tourism causes myriad concerns and challenges and drive economic inequality in the areas that rely on a tourism economy. Housing is inadequate and unaffordable, local government resources are overburdened and there are wild wage and price fluctuations within the local economy. While it’s doubtful either of us will ever know for sure I would still be willing to bet that lego land ends up taking far more than it gives to this community and they will not be better off for its existence.
A (Texas)
Except this place will soon be bringing in international summer time “interns” for cheap, no health benefits type of labor, like most of these places do. Local Families need stable local full time jobs with predictable schedules and benefits.
K Henderson (NYC)
@John Chastain. You missed my main point. Which is that the article never addresses that that area has long standing problems with family poverty and job availability and high property taxes. It is a weird omission in the article. We can debate if this amusement park will benefit the area or not but that was not my point. It is a variation of a Walmart or a factory arriving to a depressed area. It will benefit some but not all residents. That is not new news to anyone. Personally I would rather have the Logo Park: what actual validated harm is it doing to residents?
ToshieSpeaks (NYC)
I actually have already brought my grandchildren here. It is literally miles from anything, included houses. Additionally, it has its own exit off the highway. We stayed at a nearby preexisting hotel for two days, and bought food from local restaurants. Aside for the tax abatement (which is not all inclusive - read the article), it should bring a breath of life into many of the small towns in the Catskills which formerly hosted grand old resorts like the Concord Hotel and vast amount of summer visitors. Additionally, Legoland brings a different, perhaps more wholesome, targeted guest to the area, when compared to the new casino nearby.
Mitchell myrin (Bridgehampton)
As someone familiar with Goshen and having been involved in the Hall of Fame harness racing museum and the oldest continuous running race track in the country, this project will only be good for the area. Of course those on the left and especially environmentalists oppose any development. They Prefer an expanded bureaucracy of government and virtue signaling instead of economic growth.
Louise (Midwest)
@Mitchell myrin Please don’t generalize “those on the left.” I tend to be fairly liberal but after reading the article, I’m not sure how I feel about this development. The main issue to me was that they circumvented some existing laws to get it built. If it had been handled differently, perhaps there would have been less animosity. I don’t believe your generalizing is helpful or conducive to dialogue. I agree with another commenter that they should have had a vote. I’m not sure it “can only be good for the area” since there have already been some environmental impacts. If the town could funnel some of the revenue into preservation of other areas that would be a plus. Rail trails, parks and preserves can create revenue also. By the way, I’m originally from the Hudson Valley and know first hand about small towns without good jobs. Some of my family members were involved in harness racing as well.
Mitchell myrin (Bridgehampton)
@Louise , The way our system works is that we elect representatives and then they make the decisions. We do not put up every item for a vote. To do so would create the type of anarchy that the ancient Greeks experienced.
guyslp (Staunton, VA)
@Mitchell myrin: Thank you. Representative democracy also recognizes that, for any given decision, there are likely to be many people who know more than you do (for any random you) surrounding a given issue and, ideally, their expertise will be sought out as part of the decision making process. Direct democracy leads almost invariably to mob rule. I shudder to think what state this country as a whole would be in right now were direct democracy the actual method of rule. Even with all its warts, and there are many, I want a system where a formal buffer exists during the decision making process and where all sides have input (even when we know one side or another is often far more influential). It's not perfect, but it's far better than allowing random Joes and Janes on the street to be making decisions about all sorts of situations about which they know exactly nothing.
TJ (Bronx)
That’s a lot of non-recyclable plastic. It’s long past time to stop producing plastic of any kind.
Samuel (Nebraska)
@TJ There's nothing inherently *wrong* about plastic. Plastics are a marvel - durable, lightweight, low-cost, and can be produced in nearly any size or shape. It's single-use, disposable plastics that are the problem. Legos aren't intended to be disposed of (though intent only goes so far) but certainly the plastic bricks of legoland are intended as to be far more permanent than even a child's lego set. Hand-wringing about the potential for plastic pollution from Legoland is silly.
CK (Brooklyn)
@Samuel Where does plastic come from? Ecological devastation occurs at all points in the pipeline, from resource extraction to waste bin.
Andro (Canada)
Fortunately, from an internet search it appears that Lego bricks are indeed recyclable.
Easy Goer (Louisiana)
Look at all of the theme parks which are now abandoned: Many are short lived or operate for a very limited time. The worst never finish initial construction. These are mountains of plastic (and rust) which litter the planet. Environmental impact is paramount.
GO (New York)
Grotesque. It is absolutely unfair that a two-decade tax abatement based on one person in the government making a deal that will affect the town for decades, when many residents don’t want it. Why does the little guy have to pay taxes and not the multi-billion dollar conglomerate?
Lauren (Norway NY)
@GO That deal is par-for-the-course, called a PILOT, payment in lieu of taxes. Every planned Walmart finds a town that accepts such a deal. The promise is job creation, but then less than 40 hour a week jobs to get out of paying benefits, and half the employees are on Medicaid, half of which is paid by local taxes. Walmart has transitioned away from this business model, in part.
GO (New York)
And to add to this, the town official had to look for a “loophole” because the town had officially outlawed amusement parks. This would seem to qualify as one, and honestly feels like a massive betrayal to the hardworking folks who actually pay the property taxes. The system had to change so that corporations don’t take over small towns who don’t have the resources to fight back. This could easily have been in one of the counties surrounding New York City, where the city and country meet, and it wouldn’t have been such a disruption to the local environment and natural world the citizens of Goshen prize. But….Legoland would have had to pay taxes!
Joseph (Sudbury Canada)
People don’t like change. And it’s healthy to have supporters and opponents to new projects. A lot of folks are citing “it’s a small town, big projects like this shouldn’t exist”. Ask yourself, who is your fight with? City officials lured this project in. Your opposition is not against legoland or any other new development. No, it’s about electing officials to make the choices the majority desire. You will always have opposition, but that’s democracy, the minority voice doesn’t win. They can still have a voice influencing and monitoring progress. Embrace change, and just think how many kids will enjoy that venue!
Rick (Maine)
Your comment is right on target. The point that struck me, "To attract the Legoland deal, officials found ways around a law that specifically banned amusement parks." The right starting point would have been a referendum on that law to determine the "town's" desire with regard to the project; not a unilateral effort on the part of town officials to circumvent the law.
Meighan Corbett (Rye New York)
Perhaps the municipalities are pricing the entry for something like Legoland too low; add in future costs for roads, sewer, garbage removal, police and fire coverage when considering such a deal.
NYT Reader (Somewhere)
Unfortunately,if those costs were factored in, Legoland wouldn’t exist due to its high cost of constructing and running it. Just sayin’.
Michael Feldstein (Manhattan)
No property taxes for 20 yrs, low wage seasonal jobs, increased traffic and air pollution, high use of municipal services like water consumption, destruction of forest resulting in record nys levels of runoff pollution into the river…. And the town local pizzeria gets 30% more customer!!!
JKile (White Haven, PA)
@Michael Feldstein Gotta keep your priorities straight.
Andrew (Brooklyn)
Legoland will inevitably change Goshen in both good and bad ways. I think it will mostly be good.
Here (Now)
…and we are using flimsy paper straws and paper bags to reduce plastic.
R (New York)
Sick and tired of all these NIMBY people who want to hoard their privilege and affluence. They are a major part of the reason why we as a country have failed to make any progress on housing, infrastructure, income inequality, and climate change.
Wan (Bham)
What about people who are proud of being NIMBY in its broadest sense ? People who are tired of our natural world being paved over and destroyed for “ progress”.
William Starr (Nashua NH)
@R There aren't any universal one-size-fits-all rules for this. Simetimes the NIMBY's get it right and there really isn't any justification for the project beyond profit for the businessmen pushing it and bribes and ego-boost for the elected officials who've rolled over for them (think about practically any city whose people have had an Olympics infliced upon them), and sometimes they get it wrong, like Harry Reid from Nevada single-handedly killing off the nuclear power industry in the U.S. because he didn't want nuclear waste stored deeply and safely in Yucca Mountain.
galtsgultch (sugar loaf, ny)
I I’ve a stones throw from Legoland. The majority of signs and opposition came from NIMBYs whose view was going to be marred or whose property is adjacent. The concern most residents do have is the traffic. It’s already awful here because of the attractions that exist (Catskills, Woodbury Common, etc.). Personally, having lived in the area almost 49 years, I don’t like the development that’s gone on since I moved here, but I also know that’s progress and everyone wants to shut the door to the area after they move in. I’d rather have good wholesome family entertainment than a factory, another huge warehouse, or more religious zealots. That said, next summer, if covid’s behind us, I’ll be searching the back roads for the traffic onslaught. It’s a great place to live, it’s not surprising people want to visit here. Just maybe not as often?
Tom (Yardley, PA)
@galtsgultch I've been to the Legoland in Carlsbad, CA, which is a small coastal town north of San Diego. I recall it as a happy place, not particularly inundated with traffic. On the positive environmental side, the cars I saw in the parking lot with plates from NJ and Quebec will now have a much shorter drive to Goshen. I also live near Sesame Place. A few years back, the guy who played Big Bird was my neighbor. I don't know if people fought it when it was first proposed, but today is is an accepted part of the community whose large crowds don't seem to be too much of an issue.
George NYC (NYC)
Is Legoland anymore destructive to the quality of life then an outlet center or worse still Megs Walmart? Watch who you elected to your town council, and ask yourself before you pull the lever in the voting booth, do they represent my views on how the town should be managed?
Kvetch (Maine)
Those colors will fade. Then what?
jambeh (grayslake, il)
Riddle me this, Legoman... Why no vote? We live in a democracy, supposedly, but instead of voting on perhaps the most important decision in the history of Goshen, 900 people showed up to a hearing to argue about the pros and cons. And then a few town leaders made the final decision. Yes, I know those leaders were elected, but this was a huge decision. Everyone should have had a vote.
Barbara Sheridan (Yonkers New York)
Why no vote? They get to vote every year - first Tuesday in November to select the individuals who make these decisions. Maybe it’s time to stop voting for the machine party hacks, which is what all these local officials are around here, for both parties.
NYC Moderate (NYC)
@jambeh because no new development would ever happen if left to NIMBY. Look at the problems with housing - exact same issue.
William Starr (Nashua NH)
@NYC Moderate "no new development would ever happen if left to NIMBY. Look at the problems with housing - exact same issue." Slighty difference: Housing is necessary, Legolands are not.
NYC Moderate (NYC)
Perfect example of NIMBY
Ralph Petrillo (Nyc)
Creates jobs, introduces children’s entertainment, of course they are against it. Lol. Wake up and just build it.
Linda Kutrubes (Middletown)
Minimum wage jobs which eventually go to foreign workers with seasonal work visas post pandemic.
Tom (Tar Beach)
@Ralph Petrillo ... you're describing a public library. Right?
Ralph Petrillo (Nyc)
@Linda Kutrubes If not approved who else is creating minimum wage jobs? Are you?
MrMikeludo (Philadelphia)
Uh: "Who Wouldn’t Want a $500 Million Theme Park in Their Town?" Well, "Earthlings," but...
JG (Farmington, CT)
Ah yes, the eternal conflict between the NIMBYs and the non-selfish.
guyslp (Staunton, VA)
@JG: Talk about a false dichotomy! This is the textbook example of just that. There are valid reasons for not wanting something like Legoland, just as there are valid reasons for wanting it. And among those valid reasons for not wanting it is if it is, in actuality, in your back yard and changes your quality of life quite substantially. Calling those who wanted this non-selfish is just willful blindness. They had interests every bit as selfish as those that opposed it.
JC (Pennsylvania)
@JG I strongly doubt a town like Farmington CT would have wanted this theme park. NIMBY there too.
William Starr (Nashua NH)
@JG Ah yes, the eternal conflict between the NIMBYs and the self-interested greed-heads.
Lori Lundy (Arlington, VT)
As is sometimes the case, the novelty of such an attraction can wear off. Can all that plastic be recycled?
JL (Virginia)
Welcoming this monstrosity to provide low-wage jobs and gas stations at the expense of the local environment smacks of payoffs and land deals. But has anyone ever quantified the true environmental cost of our Lego fascination, starting with the manufacture of billions of little non-recyclable plastic bricks?
erik (mn)
@JL Maybe not recyclable, but they are reusable (that is kind of the point of Legos). My old blocks from the 1970s were added to my kids's sets in the 2000s. And all of those are going to be used by other kids in the coming years.
JC (Pennsylvania)
@JL Many people enjoy Lego's, both adults and kids. It can be considered an educational toy and it promotes creativity, learning to follow directions, patience, etc. Many who played with Lego's went on to become architects or engineers. And Lego now has an adult fan base for which it continues to create new products.
MrMikeludo (Philadelphia)
@erik Wai, if you already had a set, why did your kids need more? Couldn't they just use yours?
Rich (NJ)
How do people get there? Cars. In a global climate emergency you don’t need more day trips to nowhere. The SEQRA analysis should have addressed this and sought to minimize it. Was this litigated? Meanwhile SEQRA has become a farce because NY courts refuse to enforce it. Technicalities like standing have been turned on their head and weaponized because judges are committed to the established order not the law. And meanwhile the academic legal establishment - theoretically a guardian - could care less. The real story was what happened after the predictable approval. Was there litigation or not? And guaranteed: the activists will not approve how their position is represented in the article.
Giro (Your reality)
It seems activists approve of very little.
guyslp (Staunton, VA)
@Giro: That's because you choose to define "activist" as "in opposition to." And, I'll admit, so do many, including the news media. Those promoting these projects are, in fact, every bit as activist, if not more so, than those opposed. Both sides of any issue tend to have a core of activists involved. It's just that "the money side" (whatever that may be in a given situation) is never cast as activist along with the baggage that comes with that label. Contrast "pro-growth" [absolutely an activist position] against plain "activist" and see which you're likely to have less of a reaction to.
William Starr (Nashua NH)
@Giro "It seems activists approve of very little." That may not be as condemnatory a statement as you would like people to interpret it as.
DB (Sayville NY)
How do you win a fight with deep pocketed developers when they "donate" to local politicians who will ultimately approve their projects with the encouragement of businesses who will profit. The developers are patient and laser focused and know the opposition are amateur activists scrambling. Like mentioned in the article, the majority of those who are affected act surprised when it's too late and Amazon, or Legoland or the Rechlers come to town.
Josh (Uws)
Is it that people in the town do not believe such theme parks should exist at all or just that it should be in some other town (NIMBY)? If a park is going to be built, it is likely going to be somewhat close to a major population center, so I’m not really sure what the options would be unless we acknowledge it is entitlement? I certainly do not get a say in every business that goes up in my neighborhood….
William Starr (Nashua NH)
@Josh "Is it that people in the town do not believe such theme parks should exist at all or just that it should be in some other town (NIMBY)?" There are some things that people don't want in their backyards but are necessary and have to go *somewhere*, like landfills. But other things, like yet another Legoland, aren't remotely necessary and don't have to go anywhere.
JC (Pennsylvania)
Some people chose to live in small towns without attractions such as this because that is the lifestyle they seek and they didn't wish to live near a tourist magnet. I do feel bad for them that something like this disrupts their quality of life. Other people in the town wanted growth in revenue from this and saw it as something that created more jobs for the area. There are two sides to everything and often nothing simple enough to decide which is right.
guyslp (Staunton, VA)
@JC: Thank you for a nuanced and adult take on the situation. Would that more understood that, in many respects, these decisions are not perfectly clear-cut except to those who start out either entirely pro or con and refuse to budge in light of any ongoing revelations.
Ivan (Memphis, TN)
@JC The good news is that those who wanted the sleepy small town, will now be able to sell their property at considerably higher prices - and move to a better house in another sleepy town (and don't worry lightning doesn't strike twice). Those who dreaded slow economic suffocation will instead get economic growth. When they are a majority, they can make it happen in their small sleepy towns (rather than be forced to move away).
Zoned (NC)
@Ivan So tired of hearing people say if you don't like it move. Picking up and moving elsewhere is not easily done for most people, even if their home does gain value. Home is different than house.
Cathy (Hopewell Junction N.Y.)
The big development in my town is an Amazon warehouse, being built in a site that had housed a giant chip factory. Warehouse jobs at warehouse labor rates replacing well paid engineering jobs. In the next town over, the big development projects over the last few decades have been the Gap warehouse, a plethora of hotels off the interstate, including plans to build one over a Revolutionary War grave yard site. Legoland seems kind of benign.
AW (Boston, MA)
@Cathy exactly. In my hometown an Amazon warehouse was built, billed as bringing all these jobs. Yea ok. $30,000/year jobs. Not what is needed. Plus the increase in traffic from Amazon vans.
ARL (New York)
@Cathy Amazon warehouse here too. Property tax exemption the NIMBYs get for being aged + negotiated business taxes and the imported labor = the towns aren't able to support the schools or expand the sewer/water districts.
guyslp (Staunton, VA)
@ARL: If you honestly think that property tax breaks for those least able to afford property taxes, taken in their entirety, ever even come close to the giving away of the barn to developers then I have some ocean front property in Omaha I'd like you to look at. It just doesn't happen.
Guy Walker (New York City)
Drive across the U.S. and you'll see similar projects as this (the NY Times reported on Nashville's outdoor alcohol recreation recently) accepted by towns and cities looking for revenue. But by the time you figure the cost of supplying parking, sewage treatment and proper zoning for business any relief to homeowners looking for a tax break from these attractions are buried alive not only with the burden of the utilities involved, but the junk, the pestilence of more gas stations, fast food outlets as well as the influx of maintenance services that provide everything from pest control to landscaping every side of every road to accommodate for the tractor trailer trucks that will be a constant flow up and down your streets.
Ralph Petrillo (Nyc)
@Guy Walker Don’t forget to mention the number of jobs created.
Guy Walker (New York City)
@Ralph Petrillo How much are these jobs going to cost, Ralph? Are they jobs with a ladder attached? Or are they low paying Dead End Jobs working for MacMansion companies with no connection to your town or city?
Pleasantly Plain (Plain Town)
Agree, no indication the opposition focused on analysis of long term fiscal impact only environmental. The environmental fees go to the state, and were probably factored in from the corporate side in the pro forma financials as some sort of risk mitigation/coverage. Environmental fines go to the state, but the impact is local. Property taxes are also local. The opposition should have looked at the fiscal side. Now who knows, there could be aspects of the infrastructure bill that could help the town mitigate/cover some of the infrastructure cost. Maybe it will pass, and they get lucky, but municipalities and towns have received so many unfunded mandates over the past 20-30 years of federal cuts on wouldn’t bet on future federal support. But the GPD probably has some surplus military gear to keep the peace should things get uglier. So there’s that. Thanks dear Uncle Sam!
Pablo Mas (Chicago)
So many former industrial towns in up state New York, rotting into the ground, that need revival and jobs. Why not put it there?
Meighan Corbett (Rye New York)
@Pablo Mas Too far away in many cases. Goshen, although not that close to NYC and environs is doable as a day trip for families or an overnight. Upstate is big, so a 6-8 hour drive, puts it more in the range of a weekend trip rather than a day trip.
@Pablo Mas Probably because its proximity to NYC is more attractive to people visiting from farther distances. Did you read the article, it doesn’t sound like it’s benefiting the area financially really, should more poorly justified projects go to upstate areas that need our carefully considered attention?
Larry (NY/NJ)
Because the people running those “rotting” towns have more sense than the people running Goshen.
Pepper (Manhattan)
I wish I was young enough to go there! It looks like a great time.
Giro (Your reality)
There’s no Max age limit!
JG (Farmington, CT)
@Pepper go anyway. Legos are for everyone. Says right on the box - ages 6 and up!
foodalchemist (the kitchen)
Two million visitors per year in Goshen, population 14 thousand, and the metalhead claims there's no increase in traffic. You think listening makes you brain dead? Try playing in the band.
galtsgultch (sugar loaf, ny)
@foodalchemist Firstly, Legoland is not in Goshen the village, it’s in Goshen the town. It has an exit off the interstate. I live here and there has been no effect on traffic at all, the longhair, which I am as well, was spot on correct. That said, next year, with covid behind us, I would expect that to change considerably. You might want to step out of the kitchen for a while to see what’s actually happening as opposed to boldly sounding off on something you really don’t know about while disparaging someone that does.
Brad (Bergen)
@foodalchemist Legoland is off an interstate on the outskirts of town.
AW (Boston, MA)
@foodalchemist its outside of where most people in Goshen live from whay my friends say, so yes, traffic didnt increase all that much in those parts. That said, Im sure it will and maybe can become something like Randolph VT or other small towns in VT that see and increase of $ during tourist season
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