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Great Escape flies balloon for ride test

Great Escape flies balloon for ride test

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Great Escape balloon test

From Glen Lake, the proposed ride would be seen above the treeline, as shown by the balloon test on Nov. 14.

QUEENSBURY — Great Escape floated a balloon Thursday morning to show town officials what a new ride would look like from Glen Lake.

Great Escape officials had described the 165-foot-tall ride as “minimal, not substantial, not material.” They also said trees have grown and the ride would likely not be noticeable.

But from Glen Lake, the balloon and much of the crane that held it could both be seen. The crane lifted the balloon to 165 feet.

Residents reacted with shock and anger after seeing it from their windows Thursday morning. They had expected to be able to see only “a red dot” for the balloon.

“It is much more egregious,” said Linda Clark, a lake resident and secretary of the Glen Lake Protective Association. “Even the crane is seen from the lake.”

Paul McPhillips, president of the Glen Lake Protective Association, was one of many who went to multiple locations to see how much of the ride would be visible.

“They’re not edging over the limit. They are busting over the limit,” he said. “It will be very visible.”

Others began passing photos of the balloon to those who were working during the event and asked everyone to come to the Nov. 26 meeting of the Queensbury Planning Board to object to the location of the ride.

They want it placed in another part of the park.

In 2001, as Great Escape sought approval to expand, the company floated balloons to determine how high new rides could be without disturbing the view for its neighbors.

In the area for the proposed ride — in Ghost Town — the company agreed to place rides no taller than 135 feet. That’s because balloons showed that taller rides could be seen from the lake and from residential roads around the lake. The rules that the town, residents and company agreed to are codified as the 2001 Environmental Impact Statement.

Great Escape officials acknowledged last month they could place the ride in other places, but said they want to draw more customers to Ghost Town and prefer a tall ride so it can be seen from Route 9. That might pull in more customers, they said.

Residents stressed they aren’t opposed to Great Escape or new rides.

“We just want them to follow the rules so we can all live in the same neighborhood,” Clark said.

She noted that when she recently put in a porch, she had to follow town rules.

“Granted, it’s just one ride. But when you open the door, the door becomes wide open. It sets a precedent,” she said.

She doesn’t want views from the lake to become views of an amusement park. Even one ride seen above the trees could hurt the view, she said.

“This is going to impact home values, desirability on this lake,” she said. “We are not saying Great Escape should not exist. But it’s not a good neighbor to not stay within the Environmental Impact Statement.”

The engineer who organized the balloon test did not return calls seeking comment.

You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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Residents gathered these photos and submitted them to The Post-Star while Great Escape floated a balloon at 165 feet to show how much of a rid…

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