The following are several viewpoints that I sent to the Goshen Town Planning Board as directed at the public hearing of Dec. 15, 2016, by the Town Planning Board expressing my concerns and comments for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) Scoping session for the above referenced subject. Here are a few more comments that need to be properly addressed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS):
1. The DEIS did not contain direct comments addressing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Maps for these properties along Otter Creek and its tributaries that shows the 100-year and 500-year flood plains. As stated in the July 2003 Town’s Protection Plan, the Otter Creek (Area B) that exists throughout the entire parcels is a major feed supply to the Village’s Reservoir system. On page 8 on Water Resources, the Report states ”The small headwater settings of both these reservoirs mean that their watersheds or drainage areas are also small and fragile.” The Plan further states that it has significant Biodiversity also along its banks that must be protected. If tampered with, it could destroy the Village’s 0.5MGD Reservoir raw supply system. If this was another community like New York City, it would be looking at measures to purchase the properties along the Creek to protect its Watershed and limit the amount/type of water treatment required by the NYS Department of Health (DOH) to supply its customers — that is Best Management Practice. The Legoland development will destroy the environment and wildlife at Otter Creek. As the former Village water engineer for several years, I am aware of the negative impacts of this proposed project on Goshen’s reservoir watershed.
Based on being a Critical Environmental Area by the NYSDEC, NYSDEC should be Co-Lead Agency as mentioned at Thursday’s public hearing.
2. Based on what I read to date, it must be made clear that the Safe Dependable Yield of the Village’s water system is documented at 0.95MGD (0.5mgd reservoir by CDM Report + 0.45mgd wells by NYSDOH Permit) not 1.3MGD as stated in their report. Also it should be stated that the local wells that Mr. O’Rourke of Lanc and Tully stated at the public hearing that would be donated to the Town are negligible in supplying this area. They are typical residential wells of very small magnitude when we talking about the 250,000gpd range.
3. As presented by the public at the hearing, the Town needs to state the impact on property values for homes in the vicinity of the proposed amusement park. As stated, a certified Appraiser with over 40 years experience has determined that property values would decrease significantly (25 percent plus or minus), and this impact must be addressed in the DEIS that possible lost home value/income and immediate reduction in taxes. This is a significant socio-economic impact to the residents of entire Town and its future fiscal budgets.
4. Section IV, page 160 of the DEIS is not correct. It needs to be properly addressed and corrected to state that noise levels during construction and white the amusement park is in operation can be mitigated like the Tappan Zee Bridge project where the contractors were instructed by Governor Cuomo’s Task Force to install temporary and permanent sound barriers to protect the residents in the surrounding areas. Legoland’s Merlin Entertainment CEO John Ussher stated at June public meeting that the sounds generated from Legoland would not be greater than the present ambient sounds. Per noise level tables, a reading of 40decibels(dB) or less is considered quiet residential. These levels must be maintained for the quality of life for the residents in the surrounding areas.
For local residents, this area of Goshen is known as Echo Ridge, which translates to a natural land features that carry sounds many miles that is similar to an amphitheater effect used by the Romans and Greeks, and modeled at Bethel Woods, to convey sounds.
5. In regard to traffic, it is not necessary to be a traffic engineer as everyone knows that it will be a disaster, especially on weekends at the 124 and 125 exits. Coupled with the added traffic from the Monticello Casino scheduled to open in the Spring of 2018. There is no mitigation method in the DEIS to handle the 6,000 plus cars daily that will be produced by Legoland. The traffic experts from the State and other consultants must address this issue, taking into account the reported expansion plan of BOCES and emergency vehicles. Addition of additional traffic lanes on Route 17 (future Route 86), along with a separate exit interchange for Legoland, will take major funding and many years if it even happens. Route 17 will be called the LIE #2. In addition, emergency vehicles especially on weekends, will or be able to respond in a timely fashion due the tremendous traffic congestion.
In summary, we are not against Legoland/Merlin as an amusement company and also support the construction workers in the region who will benefit from this huge mega- construction project for several years (there is plenty of work to support the unions from nearby several counties), but it should be built elsewhere, like the former IBM site in Kingston/Ulster, where it is already zoned for commercial/industry and has the necessary infrastructure to support it. As I briefly mentioned at the public hearing, there are errors/incompleteness contained in the DEIS that must be corrected and addressed.
As you are well aware, if this mega-project moves forward, it will dramatically change the quality of life and features that are attributed to our Town and have attracted many families to live and grow up their children in Goshen. Remember — once the damage is done during construction, it is irreversible and too late!