By Ellen Zoe Golden Photo courtesy ADI Tamarindo
Last month, 73 representatives from Tamarindo gathered at the Garden Plaza to take the first step towards the town’s proposed Community Center. Prior to the vote, 10 different local organizations demonstrated their plans to occupy the facility, and the architects of the project showed photos and charts of the building and its surrounding areas.
The groups that are hoping to take residence in the new center include ADI, ADE, Tamarindo Chamber of Commerce, CEPIA, Surf 4 Youth, Blue Flag Tamarindo, ANT, ASADA, and the Tamarindo Lifeguards. Supporting the venture were also members of SalveMonos, and it was announced that the ICT and the Municipality of Santa Cruz have expressed support to move forward in the process that is necessary to make the Community Center a reality. “The Community Center idea was the result of a joint process set forth by the Municipality of Santa Cruz in the development of a master plan (Plan Regulador) for a series of public spaces in Tamarindo,” said John Osbourne, who along with Hanzel Pérez of OSARQ designed the plans.
“The main proponent was the former Santa Cruz Mayor Jorge Chavarría working with students from the University of Veritas and private enterprises, ours included.” According to Perez, the soccer field was chosen as the facilities’ proposed location as the result of the process of developing the town’s Plan Regulador. Added ADI Vice President Trevor Bernard, Tamarindo only had two viable locations for a building of this size, and the soccer field is centrally located and accessible to the town. Included in the plans presented by Osbourne and Pérez are the organizations’ offices, gymnasium, classrooms for courses and professional training, a cultural and sports space, kitchen and dining room, restaurants, psychologist office, and various other spots.
The hope is that funding will come from ICT, revenue from rental space, tourist donations, private institutions and international foundations.
“The designs for the Community Center maximizes public space with a great diversity of cultural, educational, artistic and sports activities through the use of local materials and contemporary design,” Osbourne explained. In agreement is CEPIA founder Laetitia Deweer: “We like the design that Osborne and Perez did. It’s a great design that included the ideas and desires of the youth and of some CEPIA staff and volunteers. The plans incorporate a lot of public space, a bus stop, restaurants, which are a great way to generate money and social cohesion, public bathrooms that are a necessity in Tamarindo. Then you have these more private spaces like classrooms and a gymnasium and areas that will provide more silence for concentration. There’s a place outside where people can sit to watch the soccer games, and they can also see concerts and cultural performances there. They really have used the available space very well. It’s a very efficient design, uses Costa Andrea Díaz, founder of Surf 4 Youth, talked to the townsfolk meeting about what the Community Center will offer the kids in this program. Andrea Díaz, fundadora de Surf 4 Youth, habló en la reunión con la gente del pueblo sobre lo que el Centro Comunitario ofrecerá a los niños en este programa. Rican materials and has a Costa Rican identity. I’m very satisfied with it.” The vote in July came after it was explained to the group, that the land that was chosen for the Community Center needs to be re-registered as “Servicios Públicos y Gubernamentales” while the existing soccer field would remain a green zone. The building would be approximately 340 square meters, the outdoor area surrounding it would be approximately 750 square meters, and the remaining soccer field measures 3,250 square meters. In order for these certifications to be registered, the Santa Cruz Municipal Council must pass a measure to do so. The unanimous Tamarindo community vote, provided the evidence of the community’s support which ADI will use to present to the Council after the meeting and get the process started.
“The reaction of the Municipality to the idea of the Community Center depends on what our community response is, and whether the Council feels they would be stepping on toes if they pass new legislation,” said Bernard. “When we present this to the commission, they will feel more comfortable and confident in making the voting favorably for the change.” “The community vote (in July) showed a lot of people are for this,” he added.
“Hopefully, no one will present opposition to the Council. Any community opposition in Costa Rica can be the small hole that sinks the largest of ships.” Bernard met with various members of the Council a little over a week after the vote, and was able to speak as well to the head of the Zona Marítima, the latter being the one in charge of beach concession properties. He reported that both are all ready to do the Plan Regulador process for the ICT, and the solicitation for the concession is imminent. Once these two land permissions are granted, the lot will be registered in its new configurations, and a topographic study can be implemented.
Next steps include: • ZMT technical study • Return for approval with the Santa Cruz Municipality • ICT approval • Publication of the registrations in the “GACETA” • Present the project to public institutions • Approval of the second stage of the proposed draft based on feedback • Present the community the new Plan Regulador • Process the construction plans • Construction • Community Center grand opening Osbourne and Bernard warned that the entire process from its recent start with the group vote on presenting the proposal for new land registration to the opening of the Community Center is hoped to take about two years. If all goes according to plan, the concession of the property will be registered to CEPIA, and when the construction is complete, the administration will fall under the auspices of this organization.
“CEPIA would like to administer and operate the new cultural Community Center of Tamarindo because we believe we have a lot of experience running a community center, that we have the know-how and the organization structure to implement a lot of projects there and when we did the drawings with Hanzel and John we did it with the teenagers of the Surf 4 Youth program,” said Deweer. She cited Surf 4 Youth specifically and how the kids in the surf-related social and education group would benefit from having their own space for nutrition education, as well as classes about their well-being and the facilities for physical training.
Currently, Surf 4 Youth can only utilize the beach for activities. The Community Center will also be a place for CEPIA to launch other programs. Deweer cited supporting the existing Tamarindo soccer program, implementation of yoga classes and sports activities, providing English courses and professional training in sailing and boat management, as well as surf instructor training and certifications. “We have the contacts with the government as well as private organizations and foundations that support this kind of work that we do in the communities,” she said, noting the success of work done by CEPIA in their Huacus headquarters.
Huacas and Tamarindo would operate separately, with CEPIA nominating a local coordinator at the new Community Center. There would be a common administration, and fundraising efforts would be led, but not limited to, the existing resources that CEPIA already has in place, thereby lowering the financial pressure on the new center and reducing the costs.
“Tamarindo can offer youth and teenagers a safe place to be involved with healthy activities,” explained Deweer. “When teenagers are involved in healthy activities like art classes which will be part of the center’s cultural component, as well as sports, it increases their wellbeing and connection to others and prevents them from consuming alcohol and drugs and being violent. And they become a role models.
CEPIA teaches kids transversal values like the importance of preserving Mother Earth, non-violent communication and prevention of gender violence and nutrition. These are the values we promote and there is a very big opportunity that the Municipality is demanding these kinds of projects.” CEPIA, along with ADI, ADE, the Tamarindo Chamber of Commerce and other groups involved in the plans for the center, met with Claudia Dobles, the First Lady of Costa Rica and Deweer reported that she is very interested in this project, offering to give “strong support with the local government” to help however she can to push through the red tape of getting the Community Center built.