Plans for balloon ride on the rise

January 14, 2000|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

The balloon man's dream is heading skyward.

Despite questions about whether it would pop or create traffic jams, a Baltimore committee granted preliminary approval yesterday to a Pikesville businessman's proposal to create a balloon ride north of the Port Discovery children's museum.

Lee Raskin, representative of the Sky High of Maryland balloon company, showed the city's Design Advisory Panel sketches of a 110-foot high helium balloon with a ring-shaped gondola and a colorful "Port Discovery" advertisement on its side.

The five-member committee, which advises the city administration on architectural and planning questions, unanimously endorsed the concept -- but said Raskin must come back and win final approval. A date has not been set.

"I think it's very exciting and would be very instructive in teaching people about the city by letting them see it from the sky," said Phoebe Standon, a panel member.

The balloon would rise about 400 feet on a tether anchored to the ground in a plaza at the southwest corner of Baltimore and President streets. Visitors would pay less then $10 for a ticket -- the final price has not been decided -- for a 15-minute ride that gives them panoramic views of the city, according to a presentation yesterday by the Design Collective planning company of Baltimore.

Port Discovery might offer a joint admission program, so people paying to enter the children's museum could also ride the balloon, said Kathy Southern, president of the museum.

The balloon would be created by Per Lindstrand, a Swedish balloon adventurer and balloon company owner who tried unsuccessfully to fly around the world in December 1998.

Panel members were enthusiastic about the concept, saying it might lure visitors to the plaza between Port Discovery and a proposed Cordish Co. entertainment complex at 34 Market Place.

Company officials said the balloon would not deflate if someone were to shoot at it because it has several compartments and is made of a self-sealing material that would clog a bullet hole.

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