SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Victoria Pool in Saratoga Spa State Park will open for the season on Saturday.
The debut of the more-than-80-year-old pool comes a month earlier than last year's opening day.
"Every year, we try to open as early as possible based on the completion of maintenance," said Alane Ball Chinian, regional director for New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. "The stars aligned, and we're ready."
Louise Goldstein, who has been a visitor to the Victoria Pool since 1940, said she's delighted it is opening earlier this year.
"It used to always open in time for Memorial Day, so it's wonderful that it's opening this weekend," she said. "There's no other pool like it in the world."
Goldstein said she and a friend, Andrew Jennings, launched the Save the Victoria Pool Society in 2003 after witnessing its deteriorating condition.
"Since it's a state park, our taxes pay for it, so we reached out to politicians who helped raise $2 million to repair it," she said. "It still needs a lot of work, but it's a start."
Every year, Goldstein said she enjoys reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones at the Victoria Pool.
"It's become this magical place that people dream about being at," she said. "It's beautiful and peaceful, and is a real escape. It's everybody's happy place."
Jennings said the Victoria Pool is his primary source of enjoyment every summer.
"It was incredible to have our needs met in terms of historic preservation, because it's a historic site, and it should be preserved," he said. "If you don't take care of your own house, it crumbles down around you."
Moving forward, Jennings said he hopes the site continues to be cared for.
"I hope that it will continue to be the crown jewel of the state parks system and that it'll be maintained for future generations," he said. "The pool functions as the city's public pool, so it's important."
In August, state Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey announced the Peerless Pool, also at Saratoga Spa State Park, would undergo a $2.9 million renovation.
The project included the addition of green space with picnic tables and three covered areas, as well as modernized restrooms and changing areas, LED lighting, solar panels on the roof and overhanging eaves that will shade swimmers when they’re not in the pool.
Chinian said the renovation project is on schedule.
"I'm optimistic that it'll open this summer," she said.
The 55-year-old brick bathhouse at Peerless Pool was also demolished, as Chinian said it was severely deteriorating.
"The way people access and use public swimming pools has changed since the 1950s, so there's much less need for changing rooms," she said. "We're rightsizing the facility for today's use, which is mainly for families and our kids' camp."
Chinian described the old bathhouse as "cavernous."
"It was difficult for people to find their way through deteriorating showers and old restrooms, so we're greening it up," she said. "We want it to be more welcoming and a pretty place to be.
"If the weather cooperates this summer, we hope more people will take advantage of it."
The Victoria Pool will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
After Memorial Day, the Victoria Pool will be open weekends only until June 23, and then it will be open daily until Labor Day weekend.
Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children younger than 12.