After a three-week delay, Peerless Pool is finally expected to open Friday.
Saratoga Spa State Park’s largest pool got the OK Tuesday from the state Department of Health to reopen after a $168,000 renovation project set back the start of the season.
The pool originally was scheduled to open June 28 along with the Victoria Pool, but wet weather in June and this month made it difficult to complete the work.
“It was a very complicated project because it involved the restoration of the concrete structure and the application of a rubber membrane system,” said Alane Ball Chinian, regional parks director.
Although the main pool will be open, the adjacent slide pool and kiddie pool won’t be open for about another week because work is still being done on them, Chinian said.
“We’re really sorry about it and trying to minimize it as much as we can,” she said of the closures.
Victoria Pool has been better attended than usual, she said, and swimming lessons usually held at Peerless have been moved to the smaller Victoria Pool.
The 21 lifeguards that were hired for Spa State Park now rotate between the Victoria Pool and either Grafton Lakes State Park in Rensselaer County or Moreau Lake State Park, said Patricia Forward, who oversees the water safety program for the Saratoga region of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Most lifeguards work 40 hours a week, starting at $10.35 an hour and getting a boost to $12.47 if they come back for a third year.
Forward said there are usually two or three lifeguards stationed at the Victoria Pool and at least 15 at Peerless when the water slide is open.
On weekends, a group of lifeguards carpools to Grafton in a state vehicle, Forward said. But on weekdays, they’re on their own to drive and pay for the gas.
Grafton is a 40-mile trip one way, or nearly an hour drive from Saratoga Spa State Park, while Moreau Lake is 21 miles from the park.
The Grafton beach has been seeing greater attendance than usual this summer, so the lifeguards are needed there, Chinian said.
“We’re going to be stretched pretty thin when the Peerless does open,” she said.
Hiring lifeguards is always difficult, since other summer jobs can pay just as much but require fewer skills and training, Chinian said.
The delay also is likely to mean less revenue for the state park, Chinian acknowledged, since swimmers at Peerless not only pay a fee of $3 per adult or $1.50 per child, but also pay $6 to drive into the picnic area of the park where Peerless is located.
She’s not sure how much money the state lost from the delay. “We won’t know that until the end of the month.”
Still, the park won’t charge more to swim, Chinian said.
She said state park officials preferred to wait for the right conditions to complete the project rather than rush it. “This is a capital improvement that we don’t want to make every year.”
Three layers of the rubber material had to be applied and then a special paint to top it off, and the application required several consecutive days of good weather.
“You could only really work when you knew you were going to have a stretch of really good weather.”
The pool renovation is part of a $132 million capital program that the state Legislature and governor approved in the budget this year.