Oneida park designed by and for the community

Written by Tamarindo News

By Marisol Arias  Photos courtesy: 5D Studio

  • Park project participates in a national public park contest for community spaces

ADI Tamarindo (Integral Development Association of Tamarindo) has posed the simple, but important idea of transforming the park currently being used sporadically by local children and teenagers into a place for the entire community.

The ADI´s new Board of Directors is recruiting people interested in collaborating on projects such as the Oneida Park renewal. Sonia Fuentes, member of ADI´s Oneida Park Committee, explained that the Association obtained, as a first step, the concession for the management and maintenance of the park, in order that the 2000-square-meter parcel comes under the auspices of the Municipality. She also said that many people were involved in the process of defining the renewal proposal, including those in the Committee that was formed nine months ago in January 2016. These are two architects, Shera Simpson, Urs Schmidt, Hellen Soto and herself.

The Committee organized two major cleaning and daily maintenance campaigns in the Park since then. Other actions were put into practice within the community including the removal of the waste containers preventing people from leaving garbage in the park as well as the coordination of efforts with private enterprises like Gollo, who organized the park´s volunteer and restoration project. “We think that if private enterprises perceive that a community organization is working, they will support our actions,” Fuentes emphasized.

A bigger project for the entire community The Committee, however, has bigger plans for the park.

They want to make it an all-inclusive place and a means of contact in the community. Therefore, according to Mauricio Salas, one of the architects responsible for the new proposal redesign, it was decided to announce a far more complex project through a contest organized by the Ministry of Housing and Human Settlements.

The first participation in the contest was in 2015. “It is a nationwide competition to develop public community facilities in areas where they are lacking,” Salas said.

“The existing committed budget is used for the projects. The proposals, received nationwide, are reviewed by a jury, given a mark and the winners get the money,” added Salas. The “Concurso de Bono Colectivo para Áreas Verdes Recreativas” (Public Competitive Bond for Recreational Green Areas) is released by the MIVAH with a Government budget to build public community spaces. The motto is “Let´s activate the public space.”

In 2015, eight communities won at a national level. Salas explained that they participated in that opportunity last year, but there had been some design and time constraints and did not win the money.

It was decided to compete again in 2016, so actions began in January with the renewed park Committee.

“The new team began to work with the purpose of winning the competition, or the project would not be put into effect,” he said.

Fuentes acknowledged that, in May they found it important to solicit the opinion of the community. So, they made questionnaires that were published on Facebook, on the ADI website, sent to the mailing list and also distributed directly to the public.

“The survey was created in order to know how people feel about the park as it is today and what they like about it, and their expectations about it in the future.” Salas, who is in charge of the park renewal, added:

“The architect that builds a public space is not God, to design as he pleases. The community members´ opinions —teens, parents, neighbors and others—must be taken into account.” Designing for the entire community The Committee considered the main opinions of the community: safety, lack of lighting, people sleeping there, garbage, the absence of benches and furniture, and the need for walkways for the rainy season, as well the need of sanitary facilities.

The positive aspects mentioned related to the park were: its location, the shade of the trees and that the skate park keeps Oneida alive. The questionnaire was answered by people of all ages: from children to older adults.

To meet the contest´s requirements, several opinions and expectations regarding the park will be incorporated into a fully innovative design in order to serve a demographically diverse community of young and old alike.

In order to further obtain advice on how to proceed with the project, a meeting took place on a Saturday morning with kids and youngsters that use the skate park. Salas said that children and teens drew and wrote about what they liked and did not like about the park.

Something similar took place with the mothers and many other people in the community. Everybody was invited, pictures were taken and valuable ideas for the design were collected.

On October 21, the proposal was submitted to the MIVAH for the competition and the project moved into the second stage as the Committee awaits the results that will be announced in December.

According to Salas, the project is submitted to professionals from different areas for review of the technical aspects. Ultimately, the jury, made up by the First Lady, CFIA, MIVAH and another organizations´ officers, assess the entries according to the districts´ situations. “The socio-economic conditions of the dis tricts determine their priority.

Tamarindo is not a priority district but we hope it will be considered,” Fuentes acknowledged. The maximum budget allowed for the projects is between 250 and 600 million colones.

Design for inclusion Oneida Park is not only used by Tamarindo residents, but also by neighbors from the nearby communities of Huacas, Villarreal, Santa Rosa and Hernández.

“Many youngsters told us that they came to the park by bus,” recalled Salas. According to the architect, the full range of people of different ages, nationalities and origins that visit the park, opened the scope of innovative design elements to allow full cross generational accessibility.

“We don´t want to put a bench only to sit on or a table to eat or read a book. We are thinking about flexible furniture that accommodates diverse abilities: spontaneous activities of a single individual as well as community ones. For example, the park must be able to accommodate the Farmer’s Market at no cost instead of, as now, where we have to pay a private owner,”

Salas explained. Three areas join together Architect Mauricio Salas explained that the area cannot be closed given that it is a public space; however, for safety reasons, it will eventually be illuminated. The lights will use solar-powered energy.

The park was designed taking into account three main spaces: the skate park, which will remain public with emphasis on its use; a multi-purpose area; and a playground geared toward children and their families.

“The relationship between these three areas should motivate their integration. For example, a concert and other activities may run simultaneously,” he said.

There will be native vegetation within large green areas; the old growth trees that give shade will be preserved. “Tamarindo lacks amenities to perform cultural activities.

This is a cosmopolitan town and the challenge is to include everyone. The current approach is targeted to the tourist sector; however, we are focusing on the residents’ and the surrounding areas neighbors´ enjoyment,” he stressed.

The park will have a bike rack, a place to catch public transportation and an entrance for walk-ins. Features considered: a fire hydrant (by the only public street that leads to the park), drinking fountains and sources of water. Besides, the park was planned considering Law 7600.

Three recycling sites will be installed to integrate them with the ADI recycling program. “The bike rack has a small covered deck where people may take shelter when it starts to rain,”

Salas mentioned. The park has two entrances: by Supercompro market and by the poplar grove on the street of Las Baulas Restaurant. Over this street, a wide well illuminated pedestrian path with be built, as well as spots where


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