© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Niagara County Residents Voice Concerns Over Proposed Oz Theme Park

By Eileen Buckley

Wheatfield, NY – It was a packed house Monday night at Wheatfield's Community Center in Niagara County where residents gathered to learn about the proposed Magical Land of Oz Theme Park.

For more than two years there has been plenty of talk about a proposed 800-million dollar Oz theme park. But now, as the developer gets closer to finalizing a land purchase, residents had a chance to ask questions.

It would be a Disney-like theme park along 800-acres of land near the Summit Park Mall. For the most part, residents appear interested. But one by one they lined up voicing several concerns about possible property values, noise, a nearby landfill, and traffic. "I own property adjacent from Warner to River road, my concern is the entrances into the property," noted one resident.

Many say they are worried about how the park would change the flow of traffic. "We have major concerns with your secondary exits being on River Road and problems with traffic. We are near two fire companies if they can't get out, we've got a real problem," said a River Road resident.

Others raised concerns about a former, nearby landfill, Wetlands and wildlife.

A major traffic study is being conducted. Richard Burch, president of Oz Central, says the park would be considered a tier one-destination theme park that would have the potential to attract four million people. "Our goal is basically to create a theme park that will make you believe you have been transported to Oz," said Burch.

The park would be based on the L. Frank Baum books about Oz, and not on the Wizard of Oz movie. Burch says he owns the rights to those books. The theme park would include a 650-foot tower that once an hour, would feature a simulated tornado. However that stirred more residential concerns. One resident said while she is excited about the park,she is concerned about possible sound from a tornado machine and increased noise in her back yard. "It is very peaceful where I live."

But Wheatfiled town supervisor Timothy Demler says this project has the potential of generating between $50 to $70 million in sales tax revenues.

Burch has remained tight lipped about financing and his investors. But he is not seeking public tax dollars to build the theme park.