From the Boston Globe

Boston Globe, 7/11/2004


The Crosby Mansion on Crosby Lane.

The property at 375 Robbins Hill Rd in Brewster, MA, is very close to the beach and on a pond. (Globe photos)

Miles from Boston: 92
Population: 10,094
Median house price: $400,000
Transportation: Routes 6, 6A, 124, and 137; member, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority; Cape Cod Rail Trail.
Best things: Nickerson State Park, Crosby Mansion, beaches
Worst things: Housing costs, traffic
MCAS: Brewster is a member of the Nauset regional school system for middle and high schools. In 2003, Nauset Regional High School's 10th-graders ranked 27th statewide in English and 44th in math. Nauset Regional Middle School's eighth-graders ranked 39th in math and 26th in science and technology.
Census facts: Median household income is $57,174, vs. national ranking of $50,046. Forty percent of residents have a bachelor's degree or higher, compared with a national rate of 24 percent. And 26 percent of residents are 65 years or older, compared to a national rate of 12.4 percent.
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BREWSTER -- Charles L. Sumner can remember the days when he was practically swimming in paperwork, there were so many people interested in moving to Cape Cod and taking jobs in town government as they eased their way into retirement.

Not anymore, not even when a salary reaches $70,000 a year.

"I can think back to when we'd get 25 or 30 rsums," said Sumner, town administrator since 1986. "And now we are really looking at only five, six, or seven. And most of them aren't qualified."

Sumner says there is an obvious answer to the dearth of applicants: high housing costs.

"When I came here, Cape Cod was very affordable, you could buy a really nice house for $200,000, a really nice house," he said. "But that just doesn't exist anymore. . . . We don't have an area of town that I would call affordable anymore. A housing lot [in Brewster] alone is a quarter of a million dollars."

Sumner said housing costs are also likely to blame for driving away families. Expecting to have 1,000 students enter the elementary grades, the town in the late 1990s built a new school, but the children did not come, he said.

"We were just dead wrong: We built a school we don't need," he said, adding the town is still working on how to deal with the issue.

According to Banker and Tradesman, the median price of a single-family home here during the first five months of 2004 was $400,000, an 18 percent increase over the same period last year. And earlier this month on there were 139 listings, ranging from a one-bedroom condo for $165,000 to a two-bedroom, one-bath cottage -- on eight acres -- for $4 million.

Over the years, the town has aggressively preserved open space and has increased the size of its 36-hole golf course, the Captain's Course. It also is the home of Nickerson State Park, which consumes 1,900 acres in a town of 23 square miles. About one-third of all land in Brewster is protected, preserved, or conserved, according to the town.

Paul Grover, whose Kinlin Grover GMAC Real Estate of Osterville is listing the $4 million property on Robbins Hill Road, said the town's success in preserving open space also reduces the amount of land available for housing. Grover predicted housing costs will continue to increase in Brewster and surrounding towns.

"The more you can do to protect these communities . . . makes it more valuable for the people who live there," he said. "The downside is that it makes it much harder for people getting into the marketplace to afford to buy."


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