BALLSTON LAKE: Vandals burn dock

The tranquility of a peaceful fishing pier was ruined last week when vandals set fire to a section of the dock on Ballston Lake.

The smell of charred plastic still hung in the air Friday after part of the free public fishing dock was burned in the early morning hours of Thursday, Sept. 6. The remote dock, barely visible from Outlet Road, is occupied by people fishing most afternoons and evenings. People also use the site to gain access to the water for canoes and kayaks. With just a scattering of homes and a few farms nearby, no one saw the smoke billowing from the pier.

The pier is made of dense compressed plastic, recycled from previous uses, since treated lumber is not allowed in and around the lake.

Reactions to the act of destruction were swift and heartfelt.

It's just unbelievable; this had to be a huge fire, said Peter Herman, chair of the Ballston Lake Water Improvement District. "Even the posts were charred and burned. It makes me wonder if some kind of chemical was used to start the flames."

Town highway Supervisor Joseph Whalen was one of the first called to the scene Thursday morning.

"I got into work and there was a message on the office answering machine that the sheriff's (department) had reported damage, but I couldn't believe how bad it was when I saw it," said Whalen. "Why anyone would do this is beyond me."

Members of the town board of trustees immediately came together to offer a $300 reward for information leading to the arrest of the vandals, and on Saturday, members of the lake improvement district matched that amount for a total reward of $600. Whalen said the damage to the dock reaches into thousands of dollars, and although the site is insured, the town's portion of the cost will be at least $1,000.

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