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Queensbury Planning Board approves new Great Escape ride
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Queensbury Planning Board approves new Great Escape ride

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QUEENSBURY — This winter’s fight over a new ride at Great Escape has brought a long-simmering problem to the surface: Nearby residents are fed up with the noise.

Company officials moved the ride to a location where it can’t be seen on Glen Lake, and the town Planning Board promptly approved the plan Tuesday night. No environmental impact studies were required because the ride was moved.

Great Escape presented a sound study showing that even if every rider was screaming in unison, there would be only a 1 to 2 decibel increase in the overall park sound.

Residents said, however, they need the board to take a closer look at noise throughout the park.

“We are beyond peak noise,” said resident John Cembrook.

He suggested Great Escape remove something noisy each time it builds a new noisy new ride.

Cembrook also read a letter from his wife, Pamela, who said Six Flags keeps bringing in noisy rides.

“The rides keep getting bigger and more intrusive,” she wrote. “I kindly ask the Planning Board to decline this application as it is an intensification of use.”

Even a member of the Planning Board said he’s sick of the noise — not because of the loudness but because he has to listen to the same brief bit of music, over and over, from May through October each year.

“I listen to the Comet every day,” board member William Magowan said, referring to the park’s wooden roller coaster. “The one thing I’ve asked is if you could change that music. It’s the same music. It’s not the click-click and the scream down. That’s a happy noise.”

Resident Linda Clark was one of several who predicted that residents will hear screams from the new ride, because it goes so high into the air, above the tree canopy.

“No sound impact? I have a hard time believing that,” she said of the Great Escape’s sound study. “What is the town of Queensbury going to do if we see it or hear it?”

Planning Board Chairman Stephen Traver said the town would inspect the ride and enforce the plan as approved.

The Glen Lake Protective Association board of directors appears to be expecting that the ride will not perform as Great Escape has promised — with no part of the ride in sight on Glen Lake and no appreciable increase in sound.

They asked that any visual or sound problems, discovered after the ride is built, be “mitigated” by Great Escape.

“Actual field sound studies should be performed,” said association board Vice President Ron Mackowiak, who read a letter from the Glen Lake board to the Planning Board.

He added that, although Great Escape owns much of the fen near Glen Lake, it should be required to keep the wildlife there comfortable.

“The new ride will certainly be visible from the pristine fen,” he said. “To our knowledge, no environmental impact study has been done about this historic resource.”

He was not the only one to call for additional studies. The association’s former president, Paul Derby, said the town should also insist on a study of the forest that blocks the amusement park from Glen Lake.

He wants to know the age and health of the trees, as the Planning Board asked last month. The board dropped that request when the ride was moved to an area that is considered to not have an environmental impact, but that was based on the idea that the forest would completely block the view of the ride. Derby said the town needs to know how long that forest will remain.

“Because if they’re gone, we have no visual screening at all,” he said.

Several residents thanked the Planning Board for insisting on following the Generic Environmental Impact Statement that set height boundaries in the park back in 2001.

Great Escape officials also acknowledged Tuesday that those height restrictions were important to uphold.

The company moved the ride to an area at the edge of Ghost Town, between the Steamin’ Demon and the Condor, where tall rides are permitted.

“We heard what the board said, we heard what the public comments were, and we recalibrated,” Great Escape lawyer Charles Dumas said. “We feel as though the efficacy of the GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement) has been upheld.”

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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