Mount Trashmore in Virginia, Fresh Kills Park in Staten Island, Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque and many more. These public parks offer things like skating, running and cycling tracks, workout areas, environmental protection zones and other areas designed for visitors to enjoy. Although these public spaces differ in terms of amenities and environment, they are united by a shared history. They were all once public landfills. And if all goes to plan, that’s precisely what the NCA, in conjunction with other committed parties, has planned for the local landfill here in Nosara.

Already, rumors have begun to spread of plans to transform this space from an unpleasant, albeit totally necessary thorn in the side of the local community, into a skate park and public leisure area. Today, the NCA can confirm those plans do indeed exist. This is hugely exciting news for the future of the Nosara landfill and the greater community. But before we discuss the future of this area we must look to it’s past.

Before passing them on to the Nosara Civic Association, all the local parklands were owned by Amigos de Nosara. In 1992, it was decided that 3.5 acres of this land would be set aside to receive and contain Nosara’s waste. In 2004 Amigos de Nosara was dissolved, and its lands donated to the NCA. Donated areas included massive swathes of beautiful, pristine parklands. Also, an unsightly, badly managed dump. Aware of the management challenge they were signing up for, the NCA took receipt of the parklands knowing they would also have to shoulder responsibility for the trash. Although the original plan for the area to become a landfill received international funding and support from a Nicoya based NGO, the outcome was very different. Instead, it evolved into the place we know today

In the time the Nosara landfill has been operating it has served as the sole solution to the community’s waste. At times this was an almost impossible task, particularly being a privately run organization which received little help from regional authorities who shirked their municipal responsibilities. Over the years, the trash steadily increased, at times threatening to spill beyond its designated area. Soon enough, tourism exploded, as did the amount of expat settlers. Nosara grew and grew and so did the trash pile. With zero space to store increasing waste Nosara was literally up sh#t creek without a paddle.

Just when it seemed beyond hope, the town received not one paddle, but two. The first in the form of a long-overdue commitment by the Municipality of Nicoya, whose promise to begin hauling waste out of town came after sustained badgering by the NCA and Nosara Recycling Association. The second, from the University of Florida’s Environmental Science Department, whose team visited Nosara in September 2019 to perform a preliminary investigation into how to safely and cost-effectively close the Nosara landfill. The results from that study are now in. We thought first that excavating and hauling the waste to the Santa Cruz landfill was the optimal way to proceed. However, given the cost-prohibitive nature of such an exercise, it was the second option – capping and covering the waste – which eventually won out. Which brings us full circle back to the present day.

Here’s a recap of the good news.

  • After three decades of operations, the Nosara landfill is now officially closed. Presently, incoming waste is being transported out of town by a Nicoya contractor to the Santa Cruz landfill.
  • We have a viable, and environmentally friendly solution to dealing with the areas existing waste. This will however require funding.
  • A plan is being developed to transform this space and surrounding area into a nature reserve and public park, possibly including a skate park. This will also require fundraising.
  • Early indicators strongly suggest that the parkland area next to the Nosara landfill will be leased to a major wildlife NGO, thus paving the way for the area to become one of Costa Rica’s leading wildlife sanctuaries. This Rescue Center will take displaced, orphaned and injured animals not just from the local area, but from all over Guanacaste.

As it stands, there is much to be discussed regarding these ambitious, community changing undertakings. Details need to be finalized, agreements need to be made, and above all, funds need to be raised, particularly in the case of capping, covering, regenerating, and transforming the dump area. However, the NCA is, in principle, committed to all of the ideas outlined above and excited about leading the way on these projects. These initiatives will require work, dedication, and help. And, although these projects will not manifest overnight, the ball is already rolling. Preliminary talks are already underway. Moreover, we are firm believers that where there is a will there’s a way. Fortunately, there is no shortage of will among NCA staff and members. As these projects unfold we will do our best to keep the community informed. Stay tuned for more details.