GLOVERSVILLE — A few hours of nice weather and several weeks of progress beating back a pandemic was all it took to usher in pool-building season.
On the first day the Mohawk Valley region went into Phase 1 of reopening its economy, Amsterdam-based Alpin Haus started installing its first pool of the year in a Gloversville backyard.
Pools have been one of the many things affected by seemingly contradictory regulations under the New York on Pause order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. While it has been legal all along to open pools for the season and to clean or service them, building a new pool was banned.
At 12:01 a.m. Friday, non-essential construction activity such as pool installation was allowed to resume (with health precautions) in Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties. Pool construction remains banned in the adjoining Capital Region, where Alpin Haus does a lot of business in normal times.
But it was good to be back in the field, said Jamie Georgelos, general manager of pools and spas for Alpin Haus.
“It’s just really refreshing to be out doing our job and having our teams back and employed,” he said Friday morning from the job site in Gloversville.
After weeks under COVID-19 precautions, the homeowners, who asked not to be identified in this story, were excited about the 16-by-32-foot pool being dug into their back yard.
“It’s kind of a glimmer of hope, is what they’re telling us,” Georgelos said.
It was also a great morning to be out doing the work, with warm sunshine eight weeks into a mostly chilly spring — there was snow in neighboring Hamilton County just two nights earlier.
It was a brief weather respite, with high winds and heavy rain closing in from the west, but it was enough to get the hole dug out and the concrete walls of the pool poured.
Georgelos said the standing order during the pandemic — stay home! — has left a lot of people thinking about their homes. Some have watched vacation plans evaporate and are left holding the cash they were going to spend on travel.
“Throughout this whole pandemic, there’s been a lot of people reinvesting in their home,” he said. “People are just home and don’t know how long they’re going to be home.”
A new pool is still out of reach in many counties.
“The demand is so high, yet we can’t service most of the areas where we have customers,” Georgelos said.
Stay-at-home items like patio furniture and grills — which Alpin Haus is allowed to sell only from the curbside — have drawn interest, he said.
“Hot tubs have been popular too,” he added. “Everybody now is looking for an outlet, something bright to look forward to.”
Pools themselves are not known to be a contagion risk for the virus. It’s the gathering of people in close quarters while enjoying a pool (or building a pool) that has led to concerns.
In a properly maintained and functioning pool, the chlorine in the water will kill microorganisms.
It’s apparently for this reason that pool maintenance, like many other types of cleaning and repairs, was declared essential and allowed to continue through the height of the pandemic.
Georgelos said a major part of good pool management is keeping that chlorine level up without the overkill that leads to itchy skin and eyes.