Sunday, May 31, 2009
Victoria Pool may open one week earlier,keep your fingers crossed folks.
Group pushes for early pool opening at Spa State Park
Sunday, May 31, 2009
By PAUL POST
SARATOGA SPRINGS — State parks officials expect to open Victoria Pool on Saturday, June 27, but might opt for a week earlier if conditions permit.
However, that’s still not early enough for Save the Victoria Pool Society members, who gathered at the site recently to protest its scheduled opening.
The cash-strapped state could make money by opening the pool Memorial Day weekend or early June, society co-founder Louise Goldstein said. But parks officials say it takes at least five people to staff the pool, and if weather doesn’t cooperate, it actually loses money.
“It’s a balancing act,” said Robert Kuhn, assistant regional parks commissioner. “Monday (May 25) was a beautiful day. If people really wanted to go swimming, they could have gone to one of our beaches. We were almost turning people away at Moreau Lake State Park. At this point, the pool water is still so cold that most people don’t want to go in. You might get a few sunbathers. But if it’s cloudy and nobody shows up, you lose money.”
Moreau Lake’s beach stayed open throughout Memorial Day weekend because the park’s campgrounds were 98 percent full.
Staffing the pool requires three lifeguards, a certified pool operator and someone to take money. Pool fees are going up this year from $6 to $8 for adults. The cost for children is $4.
Several years ago, the state spent $1.5 million to upgrade Victoria Pool, located behind the Gideon Putnam Hotel & Resort. “It’s our (taxpayer) money they spent and it’s just sitting there,” Goldstein said. “People would rather go to a hotel that has a pool open.”
She said many people are taking vacations close to home this year, another reason the pool should open earlier.
“A third of our very short summer should not be denied state residents whose hard-earned money paid to save it,” Goldstein said.
The park’s Peerless Pool is also scheduled to open on Saturday, June 27. Kuhn said the pools might open a week earlier if lifeguards are trained, water quality is sufficient and the weather cooperates.
Goldstein also protested the increased pool fee, saying it’s coming at a time when people can least afford it.
Statewide, the parks department was hit hard by this year’s fiscal crisis and forced to scale back or close a variety of facilities. Both the Victoria and Peerless pools will close an hour earlier (6 p.m.) and Peerless Pool will be closed Tuesdays. Use was lightest on Tuesdays the past several years, Kuhn said.
Goldstein said Tuesday is the only day Saratoga Race Course workers can go to the pool, when the track is dark. Kuhn said most of the workers go to Victoria Pool anyway, to avoid large numbers of camp children at Peerless Pool.
To access Peerless Pool, visitors must go through one of Spa State Park’s admission booths and pay a $6 day-use fee. On top of that there’s a pool fee, $2 for adults and $1 for children.
Park visitors can get to Victoria Pool via Avenue of the Pines, which can be accessed without going through an admission booth.
Spa State Park pools
ä Fee — $8 adults, $4 children
ä Fee — $6 park day-use plus $2 adults, $1 children for pool use.
ä Opening — Saturday, June 27 (both pools). Possibly one week earlier if conditions permit.
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