Government says hotel demolition sites are now cleaned up

Ministerio de Ambient y Energía photo
File photo shows demolition work

The site of two demolished hotels in Punta Uva on the Caribbean coast are no longer attractive nuisances.

The Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía and a newspaper correspondent report that the demolition sites have been cleaned up.

Residents became concerned when material from the demolition was left in the area for months.

The demolition, based on a court order, was in July 2011. The ministry reports that workers ran into problems when they demolished the Las Palmas hotel, correctly called the Centro Turistica Punta Uva S.A. The ministry said that the owner, Jan Kalina, had installed 195 meters of a concrete drain under the hotel to control water from the wetlands on which it was located.

A.M. Costa Rica/Connie Foss
Sign proclaims that this is a demolition site.

The 640 feet of drain line had to be removed under another contract. And workers had to compensate for the lack of the drain by rechanneling water.

Las Palmas and the nearby Hotel Suerre battled officialdom for years, but the government finally prevailed. Kalina was accused of violating the mangroves and the wetland when he landscaped the area around the hotel.

At one point in the Abel Pacheco administration, officials said they would simply confiscate the hotel and turn it into a working hotel to train tourism employees. That idea fell through.

Kaline died unexpectedly about a week after workers began tearing down the concrete walls of the hotel.

President Laura Chinchilla now says she supports a bill in the legislature that would freeze coastal demolitions. She said she is concerned by the many residents who live in the public maritime zone similar to the two hotels. She has not said anything about businesses located in these zones. Businesses also have been demolished on the Pacific coast.

The problem with the Las Palmas was that originally Kalina obtained permission to build in the maritime zone but then the permission was withdrawn after the hotel was built.

Now that the two hotels have been demolished and the materials removed to Limón for recycling, the local Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación has the job of restoring the site.

In addition to building in the public zone, Kalina was accused of cutting trees, building the drain lines to dry parts of the wetland and altering the ecosystem of the area. Officials also said he blocked ditches and destroyed coral. So complete restoration will be a big job.

A.M. Costa Rica employees visited the hotel site before demolition and while Kalina still was fighting the central government in court. They were impressed by the landscaping and the quality of the hotel structure.

Demolition cost 173.5 million colons, about $350,000.

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