February 3, 2022 |

In Saratoga, the harsh and sometimes repulsive consequences of operating the free, public hot pool on an unsupervised basis around the clock was brought back before town council this week. Public Works Director Jon Winter said the outside cleaning crew that contracts to clean the facility texted him early this past Saturday morning to report the changing rooms were trashed and defaced by out-of-control partiers. Winter described the kinds of messes the crew encounters.

Pictured above: Saratoga Hot Pools. Photo courtesy of Town of Saratoga.

Retaining a cleaning crew was the primary reason Winter brought the problem to Town Council. Finding good employees is no easy task. The scenes the contractors sometimes encounter makes it hard to retain them. Winter said he thinks out-of-town guests are the likely culprits. Most of the trouble, he said, occurs during the nighttime hours. Putting an end to the disgraceful behavior might mean locking the change rooms after dark. Councilman Ron Hutchins said putting the changing rooms off-limits wouldn’t deter offenders. It would only move the problem.

Last winter, the hot pool was the scene of a rash of deaths. Most were the result of drugs and alcohol combined with the physiological effects of the hot waters. Police Chief Kenneth Lehr was asked about how his officers time their pool checks. Police presence is irregular, the chief acknowledged.

When police conduct a check, they basically walk the perimeter. The chief said the hot pool cameras are essentially useless during the winter months because the lenses are fogged over by the steam the hot mineral spring water. For obvious reasons, cameras are not installed in the changing rooms. Even if the police conducted routine patrols, they might not see anything out of the ordinary.

The public works director said the damage isn’t limited to the men’s area.

The discussion concluded with Winter saying that his main concern was the impact the problem has on the morale of the cleaning crew, and wanted to make council aware of the situation. No action was taken.


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