LEGOLAND, Talks Continue

In Suffern – preliminary talks continue about the proposed building of a LEGOLAND theme park at 25 Old Mill Road, the site of the former Novartis Plant. Recently, it was announced that Merlin entertainments, a UK-based company is in talks with Ramapo officials to construct a $250 million dollar mega amusement park. Once the announcement was released there began a flurry of conversation between local residents and officials as to the impact of such a project on the economy and quality of life issues. The 150-acre LEGOLAND amusement park will include over 50 attractions, rides and a water park. There will also be a 152-room hotel with themed rooms. The benefits of LEGOLAND include the creation 1800 permanent jobs, increased tax revenue, a boost to local tourism and retail shops. Some residents in Suffern are concerned about the size of the park, increase in traffic, and commercialization diminishing Rockland’s small town country feel. Media reports state LEGOLAND’S Florida theme park hosts over 2 million visitors per year. The final approval of planning and zoning is in the hands of Suffern and Montebello authorities. Officials stress the talks are preliminary. Orange County and New Jersey are also in talks with Merlin. Recently, an Italian cosmetics company in Rockland opened talks with officials regarding the empty Novartis property. In February, Ramapo town Supervisor, Democrat, Christopher St. Lawrence, and the Town Board delivered a memo of understanding to inform LEGOLAND they have their full support for the project and offering unspecified income-tax credits as an incentive to purchase the property. In opposition to the tax incentive, newly elected, Republican, Suffern Mayor Edward Markunas wrote, “Suffern/Ramapo taxpayers should not be expected to pay millions of their hard earned dollars on a parcel which is currently being pursued by two interested private sector businesses.”

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