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To protect, preserve and conserve — and how about some bathrooms on the beach?
Community organizers in Flamingo are in the process of forming an association called an ADI (rhymes with “body”) that would work with residents and local governments to protect both the environment and the lifestyle of this unique Costa Rican beach town.
Backers have submitted some 160 signatures to the authorities to form an Asociación de Desarrollo Integral (ADI), roughly translated “community development association.”
The agency responsible for processing this application, DINADECO, will be setting a date soon for a community meeting in Flamingo, where some 100 signers of the petition need to be present. This will probably happen in the grand lobby of the new Marina Flamingo or at the Las Terrazas venue nearby. The date is still TBA.
Assuming the Flamingo ADI is approved, this will give the town access to government funding for local improvements that might include water, garbage, recycling, sidewalks, streetlights, speed bumps, lifeguards, security, beach cleanup, mangrove restoration and yes, possibly even free, clean public restrooms on Flamingo Beach with their own wastewater treatment system.
Wait, you had me at sidewalks.
Toward a ‘model community’
“We’ve always had this small group of people running an association and trying to raise money and raise awareness for the community,” said Donna Osborne, president of the all-volunteer Asociación Pro-Mejoras de Flamingo (Flamingo Improvement Association). “In the old days, we were the ones that helped bring the road in from Huacas to Flamingo. We also put the bridge in over by the marina.
“However, these days the community has grown so much, and we want Flamingo to grow sustainably, and we’d like it to be the model community in Guanacaste. And we’ve decided that we need to get some help doing this.”
Becoming an ADI would allow Donna’s all-volunteer organization to hire a full-time employee to work five days a week to address Flamingo’s most pressing problems. This person would coordinate with the Municipality of Santa Cruz and other agencies to facilitate local projects that the community needs.
“It brings everyone that’s living in the area more together,” Donna said. “We’ll be able to receive government funding for projects, and I think we’ll gain more attention from the national government and the municipal government by being an ADI.”
Also, donations to an ADI are tax-exempt, so this could prime the pump of community generosity to fund causes that people support. The current association has members who pay $150 a year or more.
“We think there’s a lot of like-minded people out there that are willing to donate money when they can get tax exemptions to help us achieve our goals with these projects in Flamingo,” Donna said. “And with the marina, we also have to consider the development and the traffic that’s going to be bringing in, and right now we’re having issues with the beach road and things like that.”
What are the issues?
Donna said one of the biggest priorities here is water, as is the cleanliness of the beach and mangroves.
“We’ve had difficulty with our water service, and we’re really focused on cleaning up the beach and estuary, and trying to get it back to the pristine form that it was before it started getting so crowded on the beach road,” she said.
Flamingo Beach already has Blue Flag status, which is awarded to beaches with trash-free sand, clean water, waste disposal and safety programs. But some would like to take that status to a higher level.
“We’re going to try to go to the top level of Blue Flag, and that is super-helpful for the ecology and the natural beauty and preserving what we have,” Donna said.
Sidewalks and streetlights are another issue. The main roads often lack shoulders, let alone sidewalks. This forces pedestrians to share the road with vehicle traffic, or else walk in a roadside ditch with the snakes. Streetlights would also improve security at night, because walking in the dark is never a good idea.
Public restrooms on the beach, and even lifeguards, are other possibilities the ADI would explore. It would also raise awareness of recycling programs and work toward better garbage cleanup.
“We’re looking for an office employee, somebody who will sit in an office and help us run projects that the board decides are the most important things to do,” Donna said. “They’d be the point person that would handle the day-to-day, 9-to-5 of getting things done. We’d like someone who is bilingual and understands how the Muni works.”
The Flamingo Improvement Association’s all-volunteer board consists of people who work full-time in the community, leaving them limited time to navigate the challenges of creating meaningful change.
“It’s difficult to get things done here,” Donna said. “There’s a tedious, bureaucratic process to get through certain things you want to get done, and it takes forever, but you need that one person that will go to the Municipality three days a week if they need to.
“We need a facilitator, and it would be great to have a full-time employee. I can’t even imagine what we could do if we had two, but with one we could get a lot done.”
To get involved or donate, visit the Asociación Pro-Mejoras de Flamingo at this link. At the bottom of this page, you can download a form enabling you to make contributions to the cause.