New schedule for Victoria Pool urged Earlier opening and later closing at renovated facility is recommended
BY LEE COLEMAN Gazette Reporter
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On the day that the Save The Victoria Pool Society crowned its first King of the Victoria Pool it also urged the state to open the pool earlier in the year and keep it open on weekends in September.
The Victoria Pool in the Saratoga Spa State Park closed for the season on Monday.
Stanton Williamson, 73, a Saratoga Springs native and frequent patron of the Victoria Pool, was crowned King of the Pool on Monday afternoon.
Williamson said he has been coming to the Victoria Pool for more than 50 years.
"I come to the pool at least four times a week," Williamson said. "It depends on the weather."
The society was instrumental in persuading the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to spend $1.5 million two years ago to renovate the pool, which was built in the late 1930s.
Louise Goldstein and Andrew M. Jennings, co-founders of the society, want the state to open the popular pool on Memorial Day and keep it open on weekends, at least, through September.
The upscale pool attracts members of the New York City Ballet, as well as visiting movie stars and dignitaries during the summer months.
Goldstein said for many years the Victoria was opened on May 31 rather than in late June as was the case in recent years.
Warren Holliday, director of the Saratoga-Capital District Region of the state park system, said Tuesday that in the recent past the Victoria and Peerless pools in the park have always opened at the end of June, the first weekend after school lets out for the summer.
But now that construction on the Victoria pool has been completed, the state will open the pool on Memorial Day in 2007, he said.
Because colleges end their spring semesters earlier than in the past, Holliday said the park can fi nd and hire lifeguards by Memorial Day. However, in the case of keeping the Victoria Pool open in September, the opposite is true.
"We canvassed the life guards and they will all be back in college," Holliday said. "We couldn 't get anyone."
Holliday said the past two years the pool was kept open in September because time earlier in the year was lost because of renovation construction.
The combination of cool weather and poor attendance numbers persuaded parks officials to close the pool after Labor Day.
Holliday said when the pool was open in September there was "extremely poor attendance."
"We lost money," Holliday said about keeping the pool open in September.
Goldstein and Jennings said they have talked to some lifeguards and these lifeguards are willing to work through September, if the state decided to keep the pool open through the month.
"We will get warm weather again," Goldstein said about the weather. No one was swimming on Monday because the weather was cool and overcast.
About 14 of the 17 Save the Victoria Pool Society members scheduled a small surprise party for Williamson at pool side.
"Back in the 1940s it was beautiful," Williamson said about how the pool looked when he was a young man.
Williamson was an employee of the Saratoga Men 's Shop, located on Broadway many years ago, and more recently the Regent Street Antique Center.
He is a founding member of the three-year-old Save The Victoria Pool Society.
"It was run very strictly," he said. He said the lifeguards would periodically get everyone out of the pool for "rest periods" back in the 40s and early 50s.
"You couldn 't run," Williamson said about the regulations during those days.
He said he is very pleased with the way the pool renovation came out.
"It 's just a wonderful place to come to," Williamson said.