Section: CAPITAL REGION,  Page: B1

Date: Thursday, June 14, 2001

A soggy, cold summer kept residents away from the eight municipal swimming pools last year, but officials are hoping a $3 million renovation of the bathhouse at Lincoln Park Pool and early steamy weather will draw families to city watering holes when they open next Friday. Getting swimmers into the water is the challenge for advocates of the lake-like 68,000-square-foot basin in Lincoln Park. Last summer, a plan to replace it with a smaller pool brought public outcry -- and a compromise. The fate of the 70-year-old pool will be decided after this summer depending on how many people use it.

``It's such a unique treasure,'' said Robert Malerba, a member of the Friends of Lincoln Park Pool. ``It's like a lake in the middle of the city. This pool was used by so many around the city and then it fell into disrepair.''

Advocates say the pool is one of the few places in the city where people from all walks of life still come together. The mayor favors a smaller pool in Lincoln Park and a new pool at the city golf course.

But that plan would ``segregate the city by having a pool in each little area. You want integrating forces in the city,'' Malerba said.

``It's a different place than it was the last 10 years,'' said Tom McPheeters, another member of the Friends group, which is encouraging neighborhood associations to hold events at the pool and is looking for ways to transport kids there from around the city. ``We'd like to see the pool used by people all over the city and be seen once again as a real community resource,'' McPheeters said.

John D'Antonio, assistant commissioner of the youth and recreation department, is hoping for a great summer. ``We gutted out the entire bathhouse,'' he said, ``and are going to have state-of-the-art facilities.'' FACTS:IN THE SWIM Opening days for city pools: Albany: Friday, June 22 Schenectady: Monday, June 25 Troy: Saturday, June 30