Community, Liberia

Museum of Guanacaste requests about $89,000 from the Municipality of Liberia to restore roof

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Translator: Arianna Hernández

The Museum of Guanacaste Association asked Liberia’s municipal council members and Mayor Luis Gerardo Castañeda to invest ¢61 million (about $89,000) to restore the building’s roof. If the municipal leaders agree, this would be the first investment in the museum by the current administration, specified the municipal engineer, Renan Zamora.

The stairs near the entrance lead to this area, which is an open-air space with a panoramic view of the city, including Rincon de la Vieja volcano.

“From Monday to Saturday, we have dance groups, theater, crafts… in the afternoons of the dry season, we could lend that area for those activities,” specified the president of the association’s board of directors, Marelyn Jimenez, in the council session on Monday, July 4.

“The walls that are destroyed need to be cleaned, the stairs, polish the floors; there’s a small room to restore and make a storage area,” she added.

The council members transferred the request to the council’s finance and budget commission. In the coming weeks, they’ll render a report on that request.

A possible investment

Back in 2010, the Municipality of Liberia developed a “master plan” that projected the complete restoration of the building, which was declared an architectural historical heritage site in 1998.

According to municipal engineer Renan Zamora, the initial plan that the municipality came up with includes restoring the roof to open a coffee shop from which people could enjoy a panoramic view of the canton.

The museum representative supports that idea, but she says that the cost would be much higher and they don’t sense that the municipal government is willing to make significant investments.

So we think that if we ask for a lot, they’ll tell us that there’s no money. On the other hand, if we ask for less, we can develop it in phases,” Jimenez told The Voice.

According to the municipal engineer, his department has to analyze the association’s proposal to determine its viability and whether the requested budget is what would really be needed.

Zamora emphasized that the municipality could invest in the roof from the technical and financial point of view, as it has invested in the museum on other occasions with its own resources and from the exit tax from the Daniel Oduber airport.

“The question is when and if the political actors, council and mayor, agree that the investment should be in this and there’s no other work that they consider a priority, that they say that it’s not the roof but the patio, for example,” he commented.

These are the stairs that lead to the museum’s roof, a space of about 100 square meters (about 1076 square feet). In the museum’s restoration plan, the municipality planned to turn it into a cafeteria. Photo: Cesar Arroyo Castro

Limited Resources

Jimenez took advantage of her time in the session to stress to the council members and Mayor Luis Gerardo Castañeda the need to invest more resources in the Museum of Guanacaste.

“We want to make them see the need for a janitor, with regards to the 2023 budget, a part-time person. We would love a cultural manager,” she said.

At the end of the discussion, the president of the council said that he thinks that the mayor’s office “can [provide] support” with a person who cleans.

The Museum of Guanacaste has belonged to the Municipality of Liberia since 2006, according to the law that founded it. However, at this time, the municipality only pays for the property’s public services. It doesn’t allocate funds for permanent staff or for the museum’s operation.

The museum association’s board of directors works on an ad honorem basis. This board is in charge of managing the museum, but it doesn’t have a permanent budget from the municipality.

According to Jimenez, the last time the municipality gave them funds was in 2020, for a person in charge of cleaning. The local government stopped budgeting for this and now occasionally sends a person appointed by the municipality to help with these tasks.

Right now, the only permanent resource is a security officer financed by the Ministry of Public Security.

“They agreed to keep him for six more months, but what will happen after that? [If they don’t extend the position], we’ll have to close the museum. Having that infrastructure but closed is a pain in the soul,” she added.

Work in Recent Years

The local government has invested more than ¢500 million colones (about $727,000 at the current exchange rate) since ownership of the property was transferred to the municipality, according to engineer Zamora. About half of that was injected between 2009 and 2016 and the other half between 2016 and 2020.

In this second administration of Mr. Luis Gerardo Castañeda, there have been no infrastructure investments in the museum. If the municipality accepts the request made by the president of the administrative board, it will possibly be the first investment made under this administration”, Zamora specified.

For the complete restoration of the property, the engineering department anticipated a total amount of $3 million back in 2010. “These are variable amounts, but the intervention to complete 100% of the work on the museum is around that amount of money,” he added.

Of that total, according to Zamora’s estimates, the Municipality of Liberia has made a total of 30% progress.

The Voice of Guanacaste coordinated an interview with Mayor Luis Gerardo Castañeda, but he later indicated that he couldn’t meet with us then due to a “last-minute matter.”