Thursday, May 31, 2007

Saratogian, Victoria Pool to open for weekend on June 16, 2007

Victoria Pool to open earlier than expected
By JIM KINNEY , The Saratogian
SARATOGA SPRINGS - In the next few days, state Parks employees will start filling the Victoria Pool with water in Saratoga Spa State Park in anticipation of a June 16 opening.That's a week earlier than the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation had expected to open the pool. The original opening date was to have been the weekend of June 26 and 27, the state said Wednesday afternoon."Should we call that a victory?" said Louise J. Goldstein, co- founder of the Save the Victoria Pool Society that's pushed hard for a Memorial Day-weekend opening.Her group collected more than 100 signatures on a petition calling for an earlier pool opening.State Parks spokeswoman Eileen Larrabee said the state was able to move up the opening date because work at the pool progressed faster than expected."It's all dependent on the weather," Larrabee said. "The weather has been in our favor."Larrabee said the pool will be closed during the weekdays from June 18 to June 22 then reopen for the weekend and on a regular schedule thereafter.She doesn't anticipate early openings being a regular event, either. In past years, the pool would have as few as 10 visitors on a weekday in early June.The Peerless Pool, also in Saratoga Spa State Park, won't open until the weekend of June 22 and June 23, Larrabee said. That pool takes a bit more work to open each spring.Goldstein pointed out that many municipal pools around the region open on Memorial Day, if only just for the weekends."The problem is that state Parks sees this as one of the 190 parks they have responsibility for around the state," she said. "For people who live in Saratoga Springs, this is our only park."Two years ago, the state spent $1.5 million to rehab the Victoria Pool. It was the first heated pool in the country when it opened in 1935 with the support of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.The Park, which also includes two golf courses, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, a dog park and other attractions, has about 947,000 visitors a year.Goldstein said people have been complaining to Society members about the park and upkeep."Taxpayers are wondering what happens to all the money they put in," she said.Larrabee said: "I wish every park had a Louise. It's wonderful that she's that committed."The state plans to repave the Avenue of the Pines in a few weeks and state Parks is working with state Sen. Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, on a master plan for the park.Bruno, who represents most of Saratoga County, is one of the most powerful lawmakers in Albany and has a keen interest in the park.Reach Jim Kinney at or 583-8729, ext. 216.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

posted 5/30/07 on

An appeal by the community for the failings of local journalism.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pool cue
It seems like every month lately, Lousie Goldstein begins pining for the Victoria Pool to open early. Just as the spring flowers begin to poke through the thawing earth, it seems like the co-founder of the Save the Victoria Pool Society hits the media circuit with pleas –even demands –for the State Park administration to add a few more weeks to either end of the pool season.And it’s high time the bastards begin listening.The Victoria Pool, much like the park it inhabits, is a treasure to both Saratoga Springs and New York as a whole. Seldom is there a person who visits the pool’s sun drenched deck nestled in a piney grove and leaves without feeling replenished in some way shape or form. It is a unique place where plutocrats freely mix with plebeians and the only discerning factor between the two is who managed to claim rights to the sparsely numbered lounge chairs.The Victoria Pool was built in 1935 as an excercise component part of the state-owned hydrotherapy resort, which also included the mineral bathes, the springs and the Gideon Putnam Hotel. Visitors were expected to drink spa’s medicinal spring waters, bathe in the mineral water and give their muscles a gentle workout at Victoria.When the spa was incorporated into the state park system in 1962, the pool started a slow descent into what many considered abject decay. By the turn of the century, what was once known as the nation’s first heated public pool became renowned for its frosty waters. Everything from the fountains to the surrounding brick work showed marked deterioration; the innerworkings also showed age, rupturing once in August 2o03 to shut down both the park's pools for a spell.Earlier that year, Goldstein and Andrew Jennings, two of the pool’s frequent visitors, formed the Victoria Pool society to lobby for marked state improvements to the structure. After six months of heavy lobbying, the parks administration announced an 18-month $1.5 million renovation project to restore “the Vic” back to its former grandeur, including the once-heated water.Now that the renovations are done, Goldstein and her organization are petitioning for a few extra days in the season to enjoy them, as well they should. But state park officials can’t seem to open the pool until late June at the earliest, and then refuses to keep it open past Labor Day. They claim this is to keep up on the necessary regiment of maintenance needed to ensure the pool’s water quality and the grounds are properly tended.While there may be a hint of truth to this, the bottom line is more likely economics. In years of running the pool, the parks administration has realized it makes no money in May, early June or September. So rather than subsidize a loss-leader among other areas of the park that do make money, the economic thing is to shut it down, regardless of the public will.Problem is the public owns Victoria; it always has, it always will. It was built by the public under Roosevelt’s Work Progress Administration and has been funded by the public for more than seven decades. So when the public is asking –rather demanding –more time to enjoy its property, the state is obligated make a concession at the very least.In this case, how much would it hurt to open the gates a week earlier than normal and keep them open a week later? Not much. Could it be done? Certainly. Will it happen? Well, that’s up to the public. As Goldstein and her organization have proven, people talk and politicians generally ignore them; but when groups shout, their feet get moving pretty quickly.
posted by Horatio Alger at 8:47 AM 0 comments
See what's free at

Victoria Pool Lions started flowing today, May 30,2007

Monday, May 28, 2007

Results of Saratogian Reader Poll of May 27, 2007

Do you believe the state should open city pools sooner in the year?
go to:

Reader Poll results in Saratogian, Monday, May 28,2007 more than 2 to 1 in favor of Victoria and Peerless Pools opening sooner in the year.

66.7%:Absolutely. they are wasting the summer away if they don't.

33.3% No, there is a reason why they open it at the time that they do.

Sunday, May 27, 2007 sign up at Victoria Pool under petitions

Pool closed despite heat
By CARL DeNOVIO , For The Saratogian
SARATOGA SPRINGS - Since 1935, the Victoria Pool at Saratoga Spa State Park has served the people of Saratoga and its countless visitors. The first heated pool in the country, built with the support of Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself, is not just a spot to cool off on a hot day, it is yet another piece of Americana in a city filled with history.Traditionally opening its doors to the public on Memorial Day, today the pool sits empty and alone. Spa State Park is active with maintenance workers, golfers, hikers, and other guests. But sitting on the deck of Victoria Pool, the only thing that can be seen is the blindingly white glare off the bone dry cement that for so many Memorial Days would have been home to splash fights, Marco Polo, and cannonballs.Only two years after the state spent $1.5 million to renovate the pool and its surrounding facilities, and with temperatures approaching 90, Louise Goldstein, co-founder of the Save the Victoria Pool Society, can only wonder why the only two public pools in Saratoga Springs, including the Peerless Pool, also in Spa State Park, are not yet open - plans are to not open the pool until June 23, consistent with recent years.Goldstein, 66 years old and a native Saratogian, has gone as far as to start a petition, which she plans to present to state senators, assemblymen, and parks officials this weekend at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center's grand reopening celebration, aimed at getting the pool open as soon as possible - within a week - she hopes.If the pool was open, she says, "I guarantee you there would be 500 people here this weekend."Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Spokeswoman Eileen Larrabee disagrees, though. According to Larrabee, between 2000 and 2003 when the pool opened on Memorial Day, attendance averaged as low as between nine-to-10 people a day. This was before renovations took place in 2005."We don't understand why the pool's not opening till the end of June," said Goldstein. "Why miss a third of the summer?"Goldstein has gathered more than 100 signatures both in person and online through the Web site to "lobby our appointed and elected New York State Parks Department officials to stop letting the Victoria Pool sit empty," and that the pool "should be opened as soon as possible."While Larrabee said she "truly appreciates (Goldstein's) advocacy and enthusiasm," it is simply not possible to open the pool right now. With maintenance procedures currently underway at the pool, including painting the pool and resealing the deck. Unfortunately, according to Larrabee, the time of year when these things are able to be done coincides with the time of year when the pool would, in the past, have been opened, causing the delay.Goldstein claims that the reason for the delay in opening is that the Office of Parks is choosing to wait until schools close before opening, since much of their revenue comes from children. This, she states, is "ridiculous" and that while the pool is closed during the early summer weeks, those same children are spending their weekends going to places like Lake George and The Great Escape and other area attractions when they could be coming to the Spa State Park and spending their money in Saratoga, boosting local economies rather than going elsewhere.If they opened the pool now, Goldstein said, "it would pay for itself 10 times - a million times - over. ... Open that pool, now. It can be filled and opened within a week, and the weather could not be better."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Grand reopening for SPAC, Saturday, May 26,1-4PM

SPAC prepared for grand reopening
$2.1 million interior renovation includes new seats, painting, aisle lighting
BY TATIANA ZARNOWSKI Gazette Reporter At 89, Gerald Strait has seen a lot of big buildings go up, brick by brick and board by board. But what catches his attention when he visits the Saratoga Performing Arts Center now are the two trees that were supposed to be chopped down more than 40 years ago. Two huge pines south of the amphitheater’s south ramp were slated for removal when Strait, who lives in Poestenkill, supervised SPAC’s original construction in the 1960s. “Since they were so large, I didn’t see need for their removal,” he said. The trees are still growing near the amphitheater, “and I was the one that saved them,” he said. “They’re about the biggest pine trees in the whole park.” When SPAC was dedicated in 1966, Strait met then-Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller and his wife, Happy, and presented the state’s first lady with a dozen roses from the construction workers. As construction superintendent for the L.A. Swyer company, “I was the first construction worker on the job,” Strait said. He then had to hire foremen in carpentry, masonry and labor, while the electrical and plumbing work was done by subcontractors. Strait will join with others who had a role in getting SPAC off the ground at a reopening ceremony on Saturday that celebrates the completion of the center’s $2.1 million interior renovation. Founding SPAC members Marylou Whitney and Duane La Fleche, the Albany newspaper editor who inspired the project, both plan to attend the event. La Fleche had spotted a story on the wire that said Stowe, Vt., officials were trying to entice the New York Philharmonic to locate their summer home there. He wrote a column in the now defunct Knickerbocker News wondering why a New York orchestra had to look outside the state for a summer residence and suggested the state should locate a venue in Saratoga Springs, according to the SPAC Web site. The idea struck a chord with Saratoga and state officials, who began the effort to build what eventually came to be known as SPAC. The free Grand Re-Opening Celebration will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. and will feature backstage tours of the refurbished dressing and rehearsal rooms, strolling magicians and children’s entertainment, refreshments sold at 1960s prices and demonstrations by members of the New York City Ballet, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Lake George Opera. Renovations that have been under way since last fall and are now complete include 5,350 new padded seats throughout the theater, new canvas rain screens, acoustical sound panels, interior painting, drainage and walkway improvements and new aisle lighting. A couple rows of “premium” seats with extra padding will command higher prices — about $8 more than the other new seats, depending on the performance — although all of the chairs will be more comfortable than the metal ones they replaced, said SPAC spokeswoman Vesna Gjaja. Those improvements represent the second phase of a $10 million, multi-year rehabilitation plan. The first phase was completed in 2005. State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, R-Brunswick, whose district includes Saratoga Springs, secured the funding for the fi rst phase and will attend Saturday’s event, along with Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, RSchenectady, who also represents Saratoga Springs, and Carol Ash, commissioner of the state Offi ce of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. SPAC President and Executive Director Marcia White said she hopes the recent improvements will pave the way for another $2.1 million in funds to refurbish the amphitheater’s exterior, which is the project’s next phase.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

On-Line Petition to get Victoria Pool open Now!

Save the Victoria Pool Society is collecting signatures to open the Victoria Pool before June 23 as scheduled. We are once again appealing to Parks, Senator Bruno and other elected officials to open the Pool sooner. Traditionally, Victoria Pool opened on Memorial Day. No renovations have been done since 2005 so there is no reason not to open the pool as soon as possible. If you wish to add your signature directly we will be on Broadway, the Library and other locations in the Capital District.

You can sign the on-line petition BELOW or go to: and put Victoria Pool under search petitions. Make sure to sign the most recent petition May 2007.

Victoria Pool in Saratoga Spa State Park should open immediately
1 Signatures
Created by louise on May 23, 2007
Category: Health
Region: United States of America
Target: lovers of the victoria pool
Save the Victoria Pool Society formed in 2003 pressured our elected and appointed NYS Officials to put $1.5 million of our taxpayer money into rehabilitating the Victoria Pool. This was completed in 2005 even though much more could be done if funding is found. The Victoria Pool traditionally opened Memorial Day until its neglect of recent years. With all the improvements the NYS Department of Parks, OPRHP, will not open the Victoria Pool until June 23.
Victoria Pool should be opened as soon as possible and not June 23 as OPRHP has planned.

Sign the petition

The Victoria Pool in Saratoga Spa State Park should open immediately petition to lovers of the victoria pool was written by louise and is hosted free of charge at
Tell a friend Signature list Contact author Petition's forum
To link to this petition, copy the following code to your site:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Call now to open Victoria Pool before the end of June

call:518-486-1868 to get Victoria Pool open before the end of June. After spending over $1.5 million to save it the Victoria Pool sits empty until the end of June. Please call the Albany Parks Office above to urge them to open it sooner.

518-486-1868: NYS Parks

Please call Senator Bruno also:
518-455-3191: Senator Bruno

Ave. of Pines and all Spa Park roads continue to deteriorate, Saratogian, 5/22/07

A bumpy ride
By JIM KINNEY , The Saratogian
A vehicle tires to avoid one of several large potholes in the Avenue of The Pines. RICK GARGIULO/The Saratogian
SARATOGA SPRINGS - State agencies plan to repave the Avenue of The Pines in June, but it's merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the work needed at Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs and Moreau Lake State Park near South Glens Falls.At Spa State Park's Avenue of The Pines, potholes mar the pavement in several areas. Pavement also is crumbling on the shoulders of the scenic drive linking Route 9 with the Gideon Putnam Hotel and Conference Center, the Saratoga Automobile Museum and the park's pools and golf courses among other attractions. People have been calling to ask when the repairs will be done. "It bothers us, too," said Eileen Larrabee, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.She said work will begin in early June and the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is buying the materials for $40,000. The state Department of Transportation will be doing the paving, which was last done in 1999.Spa State Park gets about 947,000 visitors each year.This past fall, a private organization called Parks and Trails New York reported there are $300 million in overdue capital projects in New York's state parks, spokeswoman Larrabee said Monday."To give you some perspective, this year, our maintenance budget went up from $25 million to $30 million," she said. "That's why it's clear we need another source of funding."The "Bigger Better Bottle Bill" being pushed by the Spitzer administration would mandate 5-cent deposits on noncarbonated drinks such as juice and water. Unclaimed deposits would then go to the state's Environmental Protection Fund. Larrabee said parks like Saratoga Spa and Moreau Lake would get a part of that money.State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, opposes the Bottle Bill on the grounds that it will drive up the price of those drinks by as much as 15 cents a bottle."We are opposed to another tax," Bruno spokesman Kris Thompson said Monday.Bruno, who represents parts of Saratoga County, and state parks officials are working together on a "master plan" of projects and improvements for Spa State Park. Thompson said that plan will be ready by mid- to late summer - about three months after Bruno announced the master plan during a visit to the Roosevelt baths.The contract for the franchise to run the baths and the Gideon hotel expires this year, and the new franchise holder will be required to spend $10 million on capital improvements at the park with the state's direction. That would include not only the baths, but other facilities as well, Thompson said. Three companies are vying for the new contract."We're moving forward, and things are falling into line," Thompson said. "The next thing is to get it implemented. A group of people filling water bottles at the park's spring pavilion Monday said the park looks good overall. But they did have some suggestions."Stop dumping gravel on the cross-country trails," said John Noonan of Malta. "I understand they are doing it to control erosion, but it defeats the point of running in the woods. It's too much like paving."Linda McAllister of Saratoga Springs said she'd like to see state parks have informative signs warning of the dangers posed by deer ticks and Lyme disease. She's a Lyme disease sufferer who believes people don't take the threat seriously.Larrabee said state officials have already identified masonry and trail repairs they'd like to make at Spa State Park.At Moreau, the county's other large state park, the state has identified the following projects:ä $800,000 in repairs to the showers, comfort station and bathhouse, which has already been partially funded.ä $1 million for paving and road work that remains unfunded.ä $250,000 for the underground electrical system serving the camp sites. This is also unfunded.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lifeguards "up to speed"

Eillen Larabee of NYS Parks in Albany told us today, 5/14/07, that they are "up to speed" on lifeguards for this summer. We'll keep the pressure on for an earlier opening date for Victoria Pool.