Residents of Playa Tamarindo in Costa Rica’s northern Pacific Guanacaste province are opposing the construction of a restaurant and cafeteria in an area declared for public use by the Santa Cruz Municipal Council, which has jurisdiction over Tamarindo Beach.
On Sunday, March 19, 223 residents were on the site of a planned park along Playa Tamarindo which suffered some damages and tree removals last week. Many in attendance signed a petition addressed to Santa Cruz Mayor María Rosa López Gutiérrez in support of the park and are asking the local government to protect the land for public use, as agreed upon in previous votes by the municipal council.
Neighbors were stunned to wake up on March 14 to the noise of machinery that felled two trees on the parcel designated by the town government for the creation of the “Pico Pequeño” Park. The natural area set aside for the park is located between beach markers 126 and 128, part of which has apparently also been slated for development of a restaurant, said the Tamarindo Chamber of Commerce and Tourism (CCTT) in a statement yesterday.
Hernán Imhoff, chamber president, said that his organization fully supports the defense of public space for public and tourist use. “We agree with this initiative to develop a park that will be of great benefit of those who visit the beach so they have a place for healthy recreation,” he said.
The park would have approximately 1,500 square meters and include paths, BBQ areas, reforestation and landscaping, 12 public parking spots, and other facilities for public and community use. The park is located along the maritime zone and would give visitors direct access to the beach.
The initiative dates back to 2013, when a group of residents and socially responsible businesses, such as the Hotel Cala Luna, met with architects and students from Veritas University to obtain an endorsement by the Santa Cruz Municipality for the design of the public park between markers 126 and 128 along Playa Tamarindo. They named it “Pico Pequeño” or Small Peak.
On February 16, 2016, the Municipal Council of Santa Cruz voted and approved the development of the park in Ordinary Session No. 07-2016, according to the chamber. But, a year later, on February 28, 2017, the Municipality granted a permit to build a cafe and restaurant on part of the area destined for the park, thus resulting in a conflict of interests and confusion over the land’s use, said a statement by the CCTT.
“We are interested in defending the right of all members of the community to enjoy the beach and support the creation of this park which the Municipal Council has already voted on and approved for the entire area from the landmark 126 to 128, with a budget allocation of ¢36 million,” said Perry Ross Menking, a local resident attending the protest.
Due to the location of the trees within the public coastal zone area which is protected by the forestry law in Costa Rica, their felling requires a special permit, said local residents.
Residents said they plan to attend the regular session of the Santa Cruz Municipal Council scheduled today, Tuesday 21 at 5 p.m. to demand construction on the parcel be halted and for the park’s plans to be granted priority and protection.