Fans of the Victoria Pool, get ready to make a splash.
Saratoga Spa State Park officials announced they will open the pool on weekends, starting Saturday. The pool will be open Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month, then daily starting June 30.
The early start will mark the second consecutive year the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation has opened the pool the first weekend in June. Last year, the state opened the popular park destination June 1.
Word of the opening was sweet music to Louise Goldstein’s ears. The co-founder of Save the Victoria Pool Society eagerly awaits the opening each year and has tirelessly lobbied park officials to open the landmark earlier than mid- to late June.
Goldstein and her friends make a tradition of catching the first and last day at the pool, plus many others in between. On Saturday, they plan to be there two hours before the pool’s 10 a.m. opening to secure its most precious resources: the forest green lounges and umbrellas.
“We’ll be lining up at 8 o’clock for those white doors to open,” she said Thursday, “then it’ll be a mad dash for the umbrellas and lounges.”
The park’s other pool, the Peerless Pool, will remain closed until June 28. Unlike the predominantly adult crowd that frequents the Victoria Pool, the zero-depth-entry Peerless Pool is typically used by children.
Constructed in 1934, the Victoria Pool was the first heated pool in the country. It is no longer heated but retains its original brick arches and walkways.
A hot spot for New York City Ballet dancers over the years, the pool fell into disrepair during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Goldstein and other fans founded the Save the Victoria Pool Society to push for funding to restore the structure. Then-state parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro committed $1.5 million to restoring the pool in 2005.
The massive overhaul included replacing the pool’s original filtration system, enhancing its landscaping, installing light fixtures and replacing the pool deck.
The Victoria Pool will receive another $500,000 in funding this year as part of $9.5 million in park improvements announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in April. Plans are for various aesthetic improvements, pool deck repairs, roof repairs and improvements to Catherine’s Restaurant, a privately operated business that serves pool-goers and golfers on the adjacent course.
Goldstein still hopes the state will consider opening the Victoria Pool on Memorial Day, when other parks around the region mark the start of the season. But for now, she’ll revel in the thought she and other fans will be basking poolside this weekend.
“Whatever is the magic of the pool, mostly it’s the people and people seeing each other after a long hard winter,” she said.
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