GREAT WOLF RESORTS MAY BE COMING TO TOWN
By Edie Johnson
Blooming Grove and Chester – The announcement by county officials that Great Wolf Resorts is considering the former Camp LaGuardia site (currently named Central Orange Development Area), as a top contender for a new Great Wolf Water Park and Lodge was met yesterday in the community with mostly positive and some mixed reviews. The proposal brought the usual concerns over how to mitigate traffic, water and sewage use, but social media conversations last evening were largely positive for the family friendly company. Many residents have been pushing for a swim site there ever since it was closed as a homeless center for 1,000 of New York City’s poor as it developed more of its own shelter system. The wetlands at the site would make for a good water resource. Depending on what the major access route would be, and whether yet another overpass would be necessary, it will affect a limited number of residents near the site entrance, which is good news unless you happen to live in one of them.
Brainstorming sessions between the county and supervisors of both Chester and Blooming Grove will go on for months seeking the best route and conveying all the benefits of this beautiful quiet rural location to the folks at Great Wolf, a location that provides access to the Appalachian Trail to the east and to the south, as well as the nearby Newburgh Riverfront and historic sites, and will have nearby Legoland and Great World Casino to the north and west.
Both officials and residents have been hungry for this 258 acres to be back on the tax rolls, but not at the cost of allowing high density housing. A Waterpark/Lodge scenario could reestablish this as the entrance to the very beginning of the booming Catskills region as a desirable vacation spot, as it was in generations past. One of the other sites being considered, the Greens of Chester site just south of the Shop Rite Plaza in Chester on Route 94 would be closer to Interchange access, but also surrounded by busy intersections. Great Wolf executives are already making plans to give a presentation to area residents.
County Executive, Steve Neuhaus said I’ve had productive conversations about this project with leadership from Great Wolf Lodge throughout the past year. I am optimistic that they will choose to build their 20th waterpark in Orange County. This park would be a major economic draw for the region and reinforce the important partnership between our tourism and economic development efforts.” Beyond the Waterpark, families can explore a host of other attractions, including ropes courses, arcade games, and other family activities. Great Wolf Lodge also offers a diverse array of restaurant options, including Barnwood, a new farm-to-fork restaurant concept. Neuhaus said “The fact that Great Wolf Lodge is considering coming to Orange County speaks volumes for the reputation that we have developed as a premier tourist destination.”
“I think this would be a wonderful opportunity for Blooming Grove, Orange County and the Hudson Valley,” added Town of Blooming Grove Supervisor Rob Jeroloman. “It will further enhance our ability to attract tourists to a well-established, family friendly venue. Although this project is in the preliminary stages, we are optimistic.” Jeroloman told the Orange County Post today that he sees the possible project as a real “Win-Win”, especially since the site has both ample water and county sewer services. He added that CE Steve Neuhaus has kept his word at keeping him in the loop and has been participating in regular meetings about it with the CE and later with the Great Wolf Lodge executives.