By Steve Carroll — The Buzz
Taking a long look back at our city by the bay, so much has changed since I was a child growing up here. We were a fishing community and retail center. Main Street was mostly clothing and department stores, hardware and footwear, a few restaurants and coffee shops. Today fishing has diminished and tourism is flourishing in our coastal community. Museums, galleys, and cruise ships. People come to savor our array of fancy restaurants, micro breweries and coffee shops. A bit of old grittiness still remains, but the subtle rise of “gentrification” is on everyones lips.
Rockland’s ever-changing face is noticeable in housing and the people you meet downtown. Homes are selling for full price, especially in the City’s south end. The buyers are spending hundreds of thousands to beautify these homes and, in turn, neighborhoods. We are seeing improvements throughout the town. Housing values are increasing and in turn causing local homeowners to feel the pinch of increased taxation. “Gentrification” is being viewed both as good and bad for our community. Seniors on fixed incomes are being forced out of their family homes. As the costs of maintaining services continue to increase, especially the costs of operating our schools, our taxes are forced upward. This ever increasing upward spiral is more pronounced because the state continues to fail in their obligation to share in the support of our schools.
Looking back at 2019 we see the ever increasing impact school budget pressures have on our tax base as well as the lack of affordable housing. So as we move into the year ahead, we must focus our attention on controlling budgets and finding ways to welcome new residents and accommodate our older citizens. We must search for means to fill the needs of all in our community, to create a place that works for young and old, long time and new residents, private and public needs.
As we affectionately look back at 2019 and the trends that shaped this year, it’s important to look at the lessons learned and to clearly see our path ahead. We have little means to change our direction, but good reason to steer a solid course. Happy New Year!