Sunday, May 25, 2008

Broadway protest to get Victoria Pool open, Saratogian, 5/25/08

A small crowd gathered in front of Mrs. London’s bakery on Broadway in Saratoga Springs to protest the Victoria pool not being open by Memorial Day weekend. (ERICA MILLER/The Saratogian)
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Approximately a dozen people, some in bathing suits, gathered together on Broadway Saturday afternoon to protest the late opening of the Victoria Pool in Saratoga Spa State Park.

“We don’t want to be here,” said Louise Goldstein, co-founder of the Save the Victoria Pool Society. “We’d rather be at the pool.”

Goldstein was joined by Andrew Jennings of Ballston Spa, who co-founded the group with her. Each held signs; Jennings spent much of his time sitting in a blue kiddie pool. The pair is part of a group who wanted to use the visible Broadway sidewalk as a means to attract attention from state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, the state Parks Department, and taxpayers.

The Victoria Pool first opened in 1934 and is said to have been the first heated public pool in the country. While the pool is no longer heated, Goldstein said traditionally the pool was always opened on Memorial Day weekend, but in recent years, the Parks Department has declined to open the pool until late June, typically after school finishes for the year.

While the pool’s open to people of all ages, few children are found there. Most children and families utilize the Peerless Pool, which includes a main pool with zero-depth entry, a children’s wading pool area and a separate pool dedicated to a double slide. The atmosphere at Victoria Pool is significantly different, as it is surrounded by historical architecture with a cafĂ© and bar easily accessible.

In addition to the history it offers, Jennings said Victoria Pool offers those who make their way there the opportunity to create lifelong friendships. For Holly Swits, a board member of the Save the Victoria Pool Society, the atmosphere makes it special.

“It is like being at a resort,” she said. “You feel like you’ve gotten away.”

The society members said they collected hundreds of signatures last year from people who wanted to see the Parks Department open the pool earlier this year. Saying they have been given a variety of reasons, all unacceptable to them, from the Parks Department as to why the pool can not return to the Memorial Day weekend opening, the group held their signs high and spoke with passersby regarding the situation.

The Save the Victoria Pool Society was founded in 2003 as a grassroots group dedicated to restoring, maintaining and preserving the historic pool. The group publicized the pool’s state of disrepair and lobbied for improvements. In December 2003, park officials announced a $1.5 million restoration and revitalization project which addressed the needs of the Victoria Pool. Repairs were made to the masonry work, the roof, the locker rooms, showers and bathrooms were improved; a filtration system was replaced and a multitude of exterior renovations were made

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you be the Save the Roosevelt Bathhouse Society instead? THat place needs some loving.

Pila said...

Victoria Pool isn't the only example of a problem with the bureaucrats in the State park system.

For the second consecutive summer, Thacher Park will have a hole in the ground where a swimming pool should be.

The current batch of bureucrats and political appointess just can't get the job done.

It's time to take a closer look at these people and make sure the necessary changes are made.

If they can't do the job, they have no business taking the people's money.

Gideon said...

Is there anyone on this blog willing to have an actual productive conversation? Is there no room for learning or compromise? If there is, please continue reading. It is upsetting to see so much animosity without discussing the actual issues in any detail. It is also a waste of time. And our time, my friends is limited. As original Spa supporter F.D.R. himself said, “be sincere; be brief; be seated.”

So can anyone answer any of the following questions? -- Since there are two obvious sides here, please refrain from answering for the other --

1. When do other Park pools in NY State open? How about other outdoor municipal pools?

2. What are the visitation rates during colder weather versus operation costs? Has this been studied at Spa?

3. Does the word bureaucrat still denote “desk jockey”. If so, do you realize how many Parks employees I repeatedly see outside maintaining the lawns, pools, flower gardens, trees, trails, and buildings? They do not seem to be desk jockeys at all.

4. Recently a blogger asked when the next volunteer effort of Save the Victoria is happening. Do these ever happen, or not?

5. The Tennis Courts adjacent to the Victoria Pool are maintained by the Friends of Saratoga Spa State Park. Do the Save the Victoria Pool members belong/contribute to the Friends efforts? If not, why?

Nightwing said...

Pila you're wasting your breath on here talking about another park, can't you read the description on the side? It says this group exists to annoy..I mean preserve the Historic Victoria Pool and Saratoga Spa State Park....

Also, there currently is no problem with the Victoria Pool just for the record. It has been "saved", whining and crying because it opens on a logical date is not a problem.

Sinister said...

If no one that represents this organization addresses these smart and intelligent questions then I don't see how any normal or logical person can possibly take them seriously. If anyone ever did to begin with that is.

save the victoria pool society said...

Mine Kill is the only other NYS Park we know of with swimming pools in the Saratoga/Capital region. Thatcher Park pool is scheduled to be closed this summer again. Mine Kill NYS Park only charges $2 admission for its pool as opposed to $6 for the Victoria Pool. Why?

save the victoria pool society said...

The Board of Save the Victoria Pool Society works all year long with our elected and appointed officials and the hard working Park civil servants to improve Saratoga Spa State Park behind the scenes. Our only goal continues to be betterment of our beloved Park for this and future generations.

Anonymous said...

That's a bunch of bull. What is the last improvement you've made?? I know 7 year old boy scouts that do more work than you.

Anonymous said...

To Gideon:

I would like to address your questions, since no one else has. I can only hope that the society prints them w/o their usual censorship. They don't seem to like things that make sense. So here goes:

1. I just called Minekill State Park. Their pool opens on June 28. If you want to take a couple of minutes, you could call the city to see about the kiddie pools, but they don't make a very good comparison.

2. The operational costs far exceed the revenue generated during the colder weather. I am sure you can get the numbers from the park thru the freedom of information act, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to estimate the cost of 2 lifeguards, 2 attendants, and a certified pool operator. Add in the chemicals and power needed to run the pool and it is very expensive. (Pools are not money makers, even with the best of weather.) The pool needs to be running with the chemicals in balance for a period of time before it is open to the public. So even with a target date of June 28, you are looking at mid-June anyway. If it opened on Memorial Day, it would have had to be all ready by mid-May. That doesn't give staff much time to do all the cleaning, painting, repairs etc. etc. Remember our April? But that is getting away from your question. Sorry.

3. Agreed. I would just like to add that it is my opinion that the true "bureaucrats" are the politicians that dole out the money. In Parks, from the commissioner on down, they can only do so much with the money they receive. It is these same politicians that act so shocked when things get to the point of deterioration that the Victoria did and blame the people that have been holding things together with chewing gum and shoe strings. They are also the first to take credit when they finally allocate some funds that should have been there in the first place.

3. You will probably have to wait until hell freezes over before you get a response from the society. I did comment, but you'll never see that one in print. You probably won't see this on either.

4. Good question.

Let's see if the society is open minded enough to print this!

save the victoria pool society said...

Saratoga Spa State Park we are told already has 5 Certified Pool operators on staff and most pool attendants are already on staff also. Victoria Pool charges three times the admission of any other NYS Pool that we can find.

Anonymous said...

And your point is????

Those 5 CPOs have other responsibilities during the year. How many employees do you think there are? They are all doing double duty. As far as the fee goes, Victoria patrons are not paying a vehicle use fee. It seems a fair trade off.

Anonymous said...

Also, for the record, Save the Victoria Pool Society, the Peerless Pool (that OTHER pool in the park) costs 3$- half the price of the Victoria, not a third- I can't say that I'm surprised that you couldn't "find" it though. You just might want to rethink your "three times the price" argument. Now you are just getting sloppy, because you cannot actually address people's comments.

save the victoria pool society said...

It cost $6 to enter the park to go to the Peerless making the cost $9---still more than any other State Pool.

Anonymous said...

I think the "save the victoria pool society" blog responder gets a little confused from time to time. They started out by asking why does the Victoria Pool cost $6?(Don't mention that it is $3 for children and seniors by the way) And after being presented with the truth...the new gripe is that the Peerless Pool is the most expensive pool in the state parks system (where you came up with that one...???) Now here's my question, since when do you care about the Peerless Pool? Your original gripe was about the cost of the Victoria and now you simply state that the Peerless is pricey. WOW! And that $9 doesn't apply to every case. If you are senior citizen you can make out quite well at the Peerless. Free entry into the park and only $1.50 to swim...I know I know it is not applicable on weekends...but you've got take the good with the bad. Also if you have a park entrance sticker on your car window you get into the park and only pay the Peerless entrance fees...

Anonymous said...

Now you are contradicting yourself. You said above "Victoria Pool charges three times the admission of any other NYS Pool that we can find.", but you just proved yourself wrong.

Anonymous said...

Is there a season pass this year? That reduces the price of the Victoria even more. And let's not forget that you can't get a pass for any other pool in the region. Special treatment for the squeaky wheel I guess.

Anonymous said...

Yeah what makes the Victoria so special?

save the victoria pool society said...

Everything is special about the Victoria Pool. Its soaring Saratoga brick arches, its roaring lions, its tranquil still water, its magnificent flowers and lawns, its friendliness and much much more.

Anonymous said...

I meant what makes it so special that there is a season pass, where as there isn't one for any other state park pool in the region. The season pass seems so silly anyway, the entrance fees are cheap enough and you'd have to visit the place virtually every single day to make it pay for itself. And who's wacky enough to go every single day? No offense...I realize as "pool enthusiasts" you feel that your present is needed there everyday...hey whatever gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning.......

save the victoria pool society said...

You complain if people go to the pool? Then you complain if people don't go to the pool.

Anonymous said...

Never in my life have I complained when people don't go to the pool.

Anonymous said...

Dear Society~What will you do if the State decides to raise the rates at the Victoria Pool? Maybe with all the hoopla about how special it is, they will raise the price. That would be too funny!

save the victoria pool society said...

We understand Victoria Pool already has the highest admission charge of any NYS Parks Pool.

Anonymous said...

You do get a lot for the admission price though. Changing area, showers, locker access, chairs, umbrellas just to name a few and you don't have to pay any entrance fees to get to the complex. There is no law that says any of that stuff has to be provided without an additional charge.

save the victoria pool society said...

You used to get a free towel and soap plus all that at victoria pool.

GentlemanGhost said...

Oh man they weren't those towels with the big hideous lion's face on them were they? Oh those things were so damn ugly...who in hell would want to stare at that mug if they didn't have to? Thank God those are gone!

save the victoria pool society said...

No, they were great white state towels with a blue stripe with the year down the middle and very small individually wrapped cakes of soap like they have in hotels.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Save the Victoria Pool Society should do a fundraiser to earn the money to buy towels and very small individually wrapped soaps and provide them to pool patrons!

save the victoria pool society said...

The Gideon pays the Pool for all of its guest we assume at the same rate we all pay.
We were never able to find out where the money went for the two fundraisers held for the pool.

Anonymous said...

I think my fellow anonymous above had an idea there. If you love the pool so much, why not have a fundraiser yourself, raise money and hand out those little trinkets to the patrons. That way you could make it look like you are doing more for the cause then just nagging, whining and complaining. If the fundraiser doesn't work, dip into your own pocket.