VACATION OBSERVATION-FROM LAWRENCE -7/21/2010
LOCATION: Centerville, MA (Cape Cod)
It had been about five years since we were last here. As we drove the two miles down on North Main Street towards an Osterville restaurant, I observed a distressing sign (or actually MANY signs). The high-end houses and estates-NOT beach houses or bungalows- were up for sale. The number of FOR SALE signs (16 of them!) in just two miles was very unusual for this area and for its type of residents; full time residence homes with expensive lush green yards and some with wrought iron security fencing. The preeminent high end Realtor- Sotheby’s International Realty- was found amongst the majority of properties listed on this two mile street. Only one property listed for sale was a newly build house and one other was a business for sale (a financial firm office building).
But, as we explored other streets and roadways in the Hyannis, Barnstable, Centerville area, many other realtor signs or closed businesses were present. One facility up for sale that was not far from our hotel was a time share housing complex lying just across the street from the beach. Speaking of hotels; most that we observed on the busy Route 28 and Route 6 highways, were displaying VACANCY signs; unusual for the peak vacation season in mid-July.
These views spoke reams to me. The finances of many-upper class- to middle class- were suffering amidst this “Great Recession” (aka “Great Depression”). The tax base and financial base were crumbling in synchrony with the financial problems experienced across the state of Massachusetts. Here, the casualties were the many hard working individuals and the related industries and businesses dependent on not merely the tourist vacation dollars, but the demand for local arts, seafood industries, and local cuisines.
Sadly, this is one report of many across our nation; but, seeing it close up makes me think that the slowing of the economy (or decent into the abyss-if you wish) is merely one aspect of this sad vacation scene. Rather, for high income and middle class residents, it is the loss of property value; the collapse of bank loans and liquidation at cut rate prices of long time family held properties and business assets; as well as the loss of value of locally produced products and goods as the consumer (or tourist) demand evaporates.
Many will suffer as the economy continues to contract and the hard earned labors and properties will evaporate into the vacuum of economic misery.
Food for thought.
Copyright 2010: Lawrence F. Roberge