Rockland Trust To Close Downtown Branch

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Business , Chatham

The Rockland Trust branch at the Chatham rotary is expected to close in April. ALAN POLLOCK PHOTO

CHATHAM — Starting with the Chatham Trust Company, there's been a bank at the Chatham rotary continuously since 1955, but that could change when the current tenant, Rockland Trust, completes its lease in April. If no other bank takes over the space, it would be the first time in decades that Chatham has had only one full-service bank in town.

Rockland Trust has petitioned the state and federal regulatory authorities for permission to close the Chatham branch located at 655 Main St. sometime around April 14, bank spokesperson Emily McDonald said.

"We continually look at how to best service our customers through our network of branches. Closing our Chatham location involved a thoughtful and thorough decision-making process, the factors of which included how we can most effectively serve our customers and the availability of nearby branches," she said.

Customers will still be able to visit branches in Orleans and West Dennis, and Rockland Trust will still have a limited presence in town.
"In the near future, Rockland Trust plans to have a new ATM with Video Teller services located in Chatham," McDonald said.

Rockland Trust previously owned the property but transferred it in 2008 to a real estate asset management company. The bank held a 10-year lease of the property that was renewed for five years in 2018 but which will be allowed to expire on April 30. The future use of the property is not known.

Chatham Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary Cavanaugh said she has heard from some local businesses that will be affected by the closure.

"Some members would prefer to not have to change banks" or visit the branch in Orleans, she said. But when she learned that Rockland Trust planned to have an ATM with a virtual video teller, "I thought that sounded like a good solution." Like other businesses, banks have suffered staffing shortages and higher operating costs related to inflation. And many depositors now conduct most of their routine banking business online.

"I think it does speak to a change in how people are banking," Cavanaugh said.

Chatham still has more than a half-dozen ATMs at various locations around town, representing a variety of different banks. But within recent memory, Chatham hosted several brick-and-mortar banks.

The bank at the rotary began as the Chatham Trust Company, a stand-alone bank with no other branches. It later became the Barnstable County National Bank, the Bank of New England and Fleet Bank before Rockland Trust purchased it in 2000.

Unless the property at the rotary is occupied by another bank, Chatham will be down to a single full-service bank branch, The Cape Cod 5, which opened its first Chatham office in 1958 and moved to its current location at 548 Main St. in 1976. Chris Richards, Cape Cod 5's chief banking services officer, said the bank is committed to serving customers in the ways that are most convenient to them, both electronically and in person.

"We focus on convenient, forward-leaning digital services and customer-oriented banking centers because we know that, for a variety of reasons, customers may choose to meet face-to-face for their banking needs," he said. Cape Cod 5 is committed to keeping its branch in Chatham, he added.

"We're dedicated to continuing to serve individuals, families and businesses in Chatham, and are proud to be an active and engaged part of this great community."

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Twitter: @CCCAlanPollock