GOSHEN—Town of Goshen Planning Board members listened to key consultants on June 16 describe in detail LEGOLAND New York’s proposed attractions, land use, and traffic improvements.
The park’s senior designer, surveyors, and traffic consultant presented details at the C.J. Hooker Middle School on planned attractions, topographic layout, and roadway improvements to accommodate what is planned as the world’s largest LEGOLAND theme park to date.
John Ussher, senior divisional director for LEGOLAND Development, gave an abbreviated presentation of plans for the theme park.
Chief designer of LEGOLAND parks, Ian Sargeant, told the Board some of the major attractions planned for the park. Sargeant has designed every LEGOLAND park except the first one.
Attractions and Land Use
Sargeant said the park will feature more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions. “It’s a mix of indoor and outdoor,” he said.
The heart of all LEGOLAND parks is miniland, specially themed areas built out of LEGO blocks. LEGOLAND New York’s miniland will showcase the Manhattan skyline and skyscrapers and iconic structures in Goshen.
As in other LEGOLAND parks, at the entrance is the LEGO factory “where all of the mini figures come to work,” Sargeant said. When they first come in, visitors take a tour and each receives a souvenir LEGO brick made on site.
With a target age group of children under 12, Sargeant said the Knights Kingdom roller coaster—the park’s only one—requires that riders are below a certain height, “again, focusing on the younger children.”
John O’Rourke of Lanc & Tully Engineering and Surveying, P.C., said two surveyors are already at the site preparing survey reports. O’Rourke said designers are working on the eight themed areas planned for the park, each which will include five to ten acres of green space.
Any later park expansion is included in planned green space in the original design. The Back of House, or BOH, which houses administration and maintenance facilities, will be built closer to Harriman Drive, O’Rourke said. There will be a secondary access road to these buildings and the onsite hotel.
He said the 30,000 square foot SeaLife aquarium will be placed near the hotel. All security lighting will be low level, motion-detecting LED lights, O’Rourke said, so as not to disturb the night sky.
Philip Grealy of Maser Consulting, said Merlin Entertainments, PLC, which owns LEGOLAND, retained his firm to develop access plans for the park. Traffic planning is in its initial stages, he said.
“When you do a traffic study and you look at this type of use, you first have to look at what existing traffic conditions are,” Grealy said. His team is compiling traffic data from the county and state Department of Transportation, as well as doing their own traffic counts.
Grealy described what LEGOLAND New York needs to easily bring traffic in and allow traffic out with the least disturbance to the local community. Improvements range from road widenings, new traffic signals, upgraded traffic signals, and some other technology for those traffic signals.
These improvements describe “how we will get people into and out of the park and what types of improvements are needed as part of this process.”
Traffic data will include the type of traffic generated by LEGOLAND, how the system of roads can handle the traffic, and what needs to be done to handle that traffic. Grealy’s game plan uses data of “what’s on the roads today and what’s projected on the roads.”
Most traffic will use Route 17 and access Route 17M. At the peak hour of 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on a weekday, according to data gathered from other LEGOLAND parks, traffic will average 1,200 vehicles. This is a positive figure, Grealy said, since it’s outside the morning rush hours. During the seasons outside the park’s peak months of July and August, the traffic will not interfere with school traffic.
About 70 percent of the traffic to and from the park will go the opposite direction of most commuter traffic. “In the morning, it’s westbound traffic accessing the park, in the evening [traffic] leaving the park would be directly on to Route 17 and heading south,” Grealy said.
Vehicles will use Exit 124. Traffic planners are still evaluating ramps and intersections in the area. Grealy expects major improvements at the intersection of Exit 124. There will also be improvements on the connector road of Route 17M, with additional lanes, and upgraded traffic signals.
He said the intersection of South Street and Route 17M and the connector road will be widened and upgraded. The bridge can accommodate another lane and will not need to be renovated.
Grealy said most traffic leaving the park will go east on Route 17. Some traffic will head west and use other roads. “That traffic would proceed out to Harriman Drive, then to the intersection with 17M and would disperse there.”
Grealy said the 1,200 figure is not all day, but only at the peak hour when the park is open. “People come into the park. They stay and they leave. At other hours of the day you have people who arrive a little bit later.”
The detailed traffic study will be prepared as part of the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) statement, Grealy said.
Some people who came to the meeting arrived with signs opposing the park. Marcia Mattheus, a former mayor of the Village of Goshen, spoke directly to the board about the board’s lack of transparency and said residents should be able to speak.
Planning Board attorney Kelly Naughton explained the SEQR process to people at the meeting. A public hearing will be scheduled to allow for the public to comment.
LEGOLAND’s attorney, Dominic Cordisco, asked that the Planning Board to be lead agency in the SEQR process, and the Board voted unanimously in favor. The project is expected to be built just south of the O-U BOCES facility off Route 17.
The company will host an open house on July 7 to answer questions and give a taste of what the park will be like.
“It will be a fun and interactive informational session,” Ussher said.
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