Region, Nicoya

Nicoya Municipality Wants to Establish Environmental Park on Land Purchased for Dump

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The Municipality of Nicoya will establish an environmental park on 15 hectares that were purchased during the administration of former County mayor Eduardo Gutiérrez to build a much-needed landfill.

The reason why the park has been planned, instead of the landfill, is because the land is not suitable for a dump. Furthermore, the lot was purchased for about $330,000 (₡165 million), but according to research by Telenoticias Channel 7, the land was only valued at about $120,000 (₡60 million).

In the report, real estate agents Manuel Antonio Zúñiga and Jorge Quesada indicated that Marco Tulio Rodríguez, former owner of the land, had sought them ought in 2009 to sell the property for an amount of $120,000, but they were unable to reach an agreement then, and a year later the price had risen to $200,000 (₡100 million). It was then that they managed to sell the property to the Municipality of Nicoya.

According to Zúñiga and Quesada, the mayor of Nicoya at the time, Eduardo Gutiérrez, told  Rodríguez not to sell at $200,000, “…because it was so cheap,” and that he should sell it at $330,000. But the matter did not end there. When the land was sold, the sellers stated, Rodríguez only gave them a commission $6,000 (₡3 million) when the agreement was for $10,000 (₡5 million) each. According to them, at the time Rodríguez claimed that he could not fulfill the deal, because he had to give $40,000 (₡20 million) to the former mayor as a commission, and that he also had to invest in the installation of electricity and a deep well.

But why did the cost of the land rise by more than half in such little time? Former Mayor Gutiérrez told Telenoticias that it was evaluated by a surveyor, but could not remember whether this was done by the Municipality or the Ministry of Revenue (Miniesterio de Hacienda). And worse, the 15 hectares are a National Heritage State could never have been used for a landfill as was originally planned.

The current mayor, Marco Antonio Jiménez, explained to The Voice of Guanacaste that the area is forested, with two creeks running through it as well as the source of another, “…no environmental studies exist and we do not know if they were done; the record is from 2009 and is incomplete. We have been slowly recovering them [with help from] our provider, Ariana Espinoza. The assessment was made by Engineer Alexander Santana, and the document of the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE – Ministerio de Ambiente) by Nelson Marín, Director of the Regional Office in Nicoya, a document that led to the recommendation of the Environmental Commission, which ruled positively on purchase of the property.”

The environmental and monetary rescue

Jiménez stressed that “…this purchase was unnecessary, the price does not make sense, nor does the work of Internal Audit,” but that they cannot lose out on something that was already purchased, so they have asked the environmental department to design a park. “We must wait for the design, but the goal is to accomplish institutional activities using an environmental technique that allows us to share in environmental development with the people of the community.”

Jiménez said that the park will have trails, wild animals, reforestation, educational shows, and spaces for the whole family to have picnics, among other things. “We do not know how much more we need to invest, but we will make agreements with the private sector. We believe it can be ready in the first quarter of 2014.”

The chief said that the current landfill is not working and is undergoing a technical closing process. “For the time, our final storage is in Santa Cruz, and currently there are no trash problems, and there is collection,” added Jimenez. Other properties will be considered (there are none so far) to develop a landfill in compliance with the law.