Victoria Pool could be open this weekend
SARATOGA SPRINGS It’s not definite yet, but fans of the Victoria Pool may be able to suit up this weekend and wait in line to snag a coveted poolside chaise lounge.
Saratoga Spa State Park officials are working to get things in place to open the pool this weekend, including performing water tests this week and making sure there is enough staff on duty — pool operators, lifeguards, cleaning staff and cashiers.
Park manager Mike Greenslade said he plans to decide by Thursday whether the pool will be able to open for the weekend, when high temperatures are expected to hit the mid- to upper 80s.
“We are going to try,” he said Tuesday. “We still have a few steps that we are going to do before we will know for sure.”
If the Victoria Pool does open this weekend, it would be the earliest opening in many years, said Louise Goldstein, co-founder of Save the Victoria Pool Society, which each year advocates for a Memorial Day opening.
“June 1 would be really great,” Goldstein said. “There are people who already have their bags packed. Everybody loves that pool.”
The Victoria Pool and the park’s zero-depth-entry Peerless Pool have opened around the fourth weekend in June in recent years, near the time local children get out of school for the summer. In the past two years, the Victoria Pool has opened on Father’s Day weekend, a week earlier, Greenslade said.
But Goldstein said many people expect swimming holes to open earlier — the beach at Moreau Lake State Park does, she pointed out — and are confused by Victoria Pool’s later opening.
“There’s a lot of people who think it opens Memorial Day,” she said.
No matter when the Victoria Pool lets in its first visitors, swimmers and sunbathers will notice one colorful difference this year — the pool bottom, which has been repainted white for several years running, was given a fresh coat of azure blue this spring.
The sky-blue color harkens back to the original hue of the pool, said Goldstein, who has been coming to the pool since 1940, the year she was born.
“It was gorgeous blue tile,” she said. “I wish we could get that back.”
Victoria Pool was constructed in 1934, the first heated pool in the country. It is no longer heated but is still surrounded by arched brick walls and walkways as it originally was.
The pool was a popular spot for movie stars and New York City Ballet dancers over the years, but by 2003, the pool was falling into disrepair, with crumbling masonry and dilapidated locker rooms. Goldstein and some other fans founded the Save the Victoria Pool Society to lobby for state funding to fix it up.
Then-state parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro committed $1.5 million that year to restoring the pool, and the renovation was completed in 2005.
The work included replacing the pool’s original filtration system and enhanced landscaping, plantings, lighting fixtures and walkways.