Saturday, June 16, 2007

Save The Victoria Pool Society, Post Star 6/16/07

Locals anticipate Victoria Pool opening
By THOMAS DIMOPOULOS tdimopoulos@poststar.comPublished: Saturday, June 16, 2007
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DEREK PRUITT - DPRUITT@POSTSTAR.COM Save the Victoria Pool Society founders Andrew Jennings and Louise Goldstein stand next to their pride and joy in Spa State Park on Tuesday morning. Jennings and Goldstein started the society in June of 2003 to help revitalize the pool and ensure that it stays visible and open to the public. To order copies of staff-produced photos from The Post-Star, please visit
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick, tick ... splash.Louise Goldstein has been waiting nine months for this morning to arrive."Saturday at the crack of 10, we'll be there," she said earlier this week while counting down the days to today's opening of the Victoria Pool.Concerned over the future of the classic pool in the Saratoga Spa State Park, Goldstein teamed up with fellow advocate Andrew Jennings in June, 2003 to co-found the Save the Victoria Pool Society. Six months later, then-Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro announced $1.5 million would be spent restoring the pool. The next priority, Goldstein said, is having the pool open long enough for everyone to enjoy it.
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Traditionally, it has been open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day Weekend, she said.This year's opening was scheduled for June 23.State Parks officials said the northeast's cool spring temperatures and sparsely attended previous openings were both factors in deciding on the later date.Goldstein disagreed."Why isn't this pool open right now?" she asked, when joined by Jennings at a table overlooking the nearby pool earlier this week."Here we are, 80 degrees and beautiful," she said.

DEREK PRUITT - DPRUITT@POSTSTAR.COM Save the Victoria Pool Society co-founders Andrew Jennings and Louise Goldstein enter the old formal entrance to the Victoria Pool in Spa State Park on Tuesday morning. To order copies of staff-produced photos from The Post-Star, please visit
"This is Saratoga's best-kept secret," said Goldstein, looking down the long arched hallways of the buildings surrounding the pool. "From the outside of the building, you would never even know there is a swimming pool inside."Goldstein has been coming to the pool long enough to see the style of swimwear change from rubber-topped bathing caps to two-piece bikinis."I had my swimming lessons here when I was a little girl. All there was at the time then was the race course. Coming here during the summer when you were a kid was magical," she said, recalling vintage movie star visitors Bing Crosby and Sophie Tucker.Jennings, who has been coming to the pool for the past 25 years recites a more recent celebrity line-up."Cyndi Lauper, Liza Minnelli, people from the New York City Ballet have all come here," Jennings said. "You see the signs that read: Health, History and Horses. Hospitality is the new 'H.' This should be a national destination," he said.
A national destination was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's original plan when the Victoria Pool and a number of other park buildings around it were built more than 70 years ago.When Roosevelt was state governor, he hired an architect to create an American version of European spas that were popular at the time. The plan for what would become the Spa State Park became a reality after Roosevelt became president and put the Works Progress Administration into practice.Armed with an agenda of getting the pool to open earlier than June 23, Goldstein and Jennings secured hundreds of signatures on a petition. State Park officials later announced the pool would open today and Sunday, close during the week and reopen for the entire season beginning June 23."They gave us two days," Goldstein said. "We feel they responded to the voices of the people."Eileen Larrabee, spokeswoman for the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said opening June 16 or 17 was always a possibility.
"What we said all along was that if weather permitted and we were able to get our maintenance work done, we wouldbe able to open a weekend earlier," Larrabee said Friday afternoon."We are so pleased that the public loves the pool and love going there. And we're pleased that it has strong advocates as well," she said.The Victoria Pool will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $6 adults and $3 for children.When the pool opens, Goldstein and Jennings said they will be in their regular spot, under an umbrella and just to the left of the clock facing the pool.
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