Cape Codders are putting pools in place so they can stay out of the shark-infested ocean, according to contractors who say they are seeing a boom in installations.
“I turn people down because we’re too busy,” said Jim Treese, co-owner of Cape Cod Aquatics Pools and Spas in Harwich.
He said interest in swimming pools “exploded” beyond its capabilities. He’s installed three fiber-optic swimming pools so far this summer and said he would like to take on more jobs, but he is short of manpower in his small company.
“I think it’s a unique situation, who would have ever thought that something like sharks would expand a business?” said Treese.
Steven Senna, owner of Swimming Pool and Spa Design in Hyannis, oversees cities from Plymouth to Provincetown, said his larger company has installed about 38 pools so far this summer, with a further dozen due for fall.
“We were able to increase sales by 20% compared to the previous year,” said Senna. “They know there have been shark attacks … that could definitely be a good factor in people wanting a swimming pool in their backyard.”
Several Cape Towns that keep records online have seen an increase in pool permits. Barnstable has already received building permits for 30 pools halfway through the construction season, up from 33 for all of 2018. Chatham has approved 17 pools, up from 15 at this point last year. Even Provincetown, with little room to grow, has gone from one to two permits so far. Contractors do not expect the pool installation boom to subside in the off-season.
“I have some customers who say I should be promoting, ‘Why swim with the sharks when you can swim in the pool? ‘… I would say it has an impact, ”said Senna.
Meanwhile, Twitter is full of Cape Cod vacationers who chose to stick around the pool this summer. One person tweeted, “Rest assured that there are great whites EVERYWHERE around Cape Cod. Find a pool to swim in. “
Tracy Berestecky, a Cape Cod realtor, took to Facebook to boost her business with an ironic post that contained a photo of a shark warning sign on a beach.
“Who’s Looking for the Ideal Cape Cod Home with a Pool?” Berestecky wrote. “Call me today … the local seals are getting restless … Welcome to Cape Cod! Hopefully your new home; but the home of sharks for about a million years! “
Elizabeth Sorbello, a Marstons Mills resident who recently installed a pool in her home, admitted that fear of sharks was a “factor.”
“Even in our area, there was certainly more shark activity and more seal activity,” Sorbello said, although she said, “It was really just a small factor in the decision to get a pool.”
Treese, a surfer, said he believed another shark attack was “inevitable” and demand for pools would continue.
“Interest in swimming pools will continue if you don’t somehow kill the sharks,” said Treese. “It scared everyone. … There is a fear factor, no question about it. “
“The sharks are absolutely here to stay and it’s a shame,” said Treese. “I’m going to dive in, but I can’t go out there comfortably and surf. I’m too creepy, I admit it. “