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 café 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