[Editor’s Note: Letter by Jeanne Ryan originally written and sent to Mr. Neil Halloran, Town of Goshen Building Inspector, August 1st and then to Black Westchester for reprint in the Letter to the Editor section, nine days later.]
Thank you for reading my letter. As a resident of the town of Goshen, I do have a number of concerns in regards to the zoning change and the proposed project know as Lego Land.
Coming from a law enforcement background; my main concern is public safety. Sadly in today’s world, our shopping malls and theme parks have become soft targets for a number of terror groups and mass shooters. I have researched safety procedures of theme parks. Home Land Security does have an extensive list of protocols. Within my findings, there are many aspects that have to be studied and multiple scenarios that are possible, to which our first responders need to prepare for.
I understand from the traffic study, basically there is one way in and one way out. Also this first phase of Legoland, has one large parking lot for 7,000 automobiles. Attendance is speculated at 15,000 visitors. I do question these numbers as the NY Renaissance Faire has a maximum capacity of 25,000, to which happens each Labor Day weekend, with regularity. Within my research; Lego Land of Florida has met their maximum capacity and yet has never released that number to the public. This has happened several times, causing traffic problems “as far as the eye could see”, (The Ledger, newspaper December 28, 2011).
We all know from living in Orange County; route 17; from Harriman to Middletown NY, is known for traffic congestion consistently on Fridays and Sunday’s, holiday weekends, and plagued with automobile accidents. This fact alone, then compounded with this parks plan of one way in and one way out; Harriman drive and Rt 17; makes an evacuation of Legoland impossible.
I reached out to Retired Detective Tim Dinan of the NYPD Bomb squad. I worked with Tim for a number of years. He responded to the 1993 towers attack, and is one of the few NYPD Bomb Squad personnel who survived the terror attack on September 11th. I specifically asked him what the procedure was for a possible bomb found in a public setting. His response of “evacuate within a 1/2 mile radius” immediately caused me concern. Looking at the illustration of the park and depending where a bomb could be placed, this could call for Rt 17 to be evacuated also. Essentially this would trap attendees of the park, within the park. This compounded with the potential closing of Rt 17; for such a bomb threat; would cut off routes for police, fire response and EMS to effectively respond to this location.
I also had an opportunity to interview Thomas Carton, retired NYPD supervisor, former Fire commissioner of Monroe, and life long Orange County resident. Tom told me that this parks location and possible threats or accident within the park would basically be impossible for the first responders of Orange County, let alone Goshen NY. His words ” a nightmare”, to respond to. I questioned him about fire response, active shooter situations, hazmat situations, and accidents involving amusement rides.
The short version of his reply, is:
- Not enough man power for police,
- Hazmat has a long response time as they are all volunteers and wash down trucks are scattered throughout Orange County.
- No paid or available 24-hour-a-day fire department if an active fire. He also said volunteer Fire Deptments only have about 1/4 of the volunteers necessary for emergency calls for all towns within the county, and that during the hours of operation for the park, most volunteers would be at their day jobs. He also made note that none of the county emergency responders have been trained for amusement ride emergencies removals, nor do they have the equipment for higher removal of aided cases or victims.
- No bomb squad available to respond within a necessary response time. He made mention of his team finding a suspected bomb to which NY state troopers bomb squad gave a response time of three hours; Rockland County Sheriff responded with 6 detectives and three bomb dogs within 60 minutes.
I reached out to another member of the NYPD, asked about the unit assigned to Yankee Stadium. She told me the unit is comprised of 1 Lieutenant, 5 sergeants, and 65 uniform patrolmen. Normal home games at the stadium deal with a crowd of 20,000 and a 9,000 car park. This is a unit available to respond and secure the perimeter of the stadium, there is additional private security within the stadium. The conduct lockdown drills and have a evac plan that encompasses weather for the possibility of a chemical threat. Perhaps a study unit, number of police officers, police vehicles could act as a quite to the necessary man power needed for this size crowd. As well as their evacuation plan of action.
It is common knowledge that traffic exiting Woodbury Commons on a holiday weekend can have drivers agitated with a wait of up to five hours with two available exits. If we as a county, have trouble emptying a parking lot of shoppers within a reasonable time, how can our police personnel empty a similar parking lot with an emergency situation?
As I did at the scoping session; I will again ask that a mock drill be conducted using the NYS Troopers, Orange County Sheriff , Goshen Village and Town PD’s, all surrounding town EMS and Fire Departments, and Orange Regional Medical Center of 25 casualties 50 injured. This exercise is necessary to see if our team of first responders are equipped and manned to handle such an event.
Again I would ask the committee to add HomeLand Security to the study.
Please also question why the city of Carlsbad CA is on the ISIS hit list, direct such question to the city of Carlsbad.
I would also ask that the applicant Legoland company disclose the maximum capacity history of all their parks.
Town of Goshen resident
[Editor’s Note: As always we encourage and invite your comments, thoughts and feedback in the comment section below]