They could not have picked a better name: Christopher Columbus Landing. You know the name. The same explorer who stole the island of Puerto Rico from the native Taíno people. This time his namesake is being used in another land grab. Developers want to build a $39 million mega resort on 121 acres of pristine beachfront land in the town of Aguadilla. The resort is slated to have 300 hotel rooms, a 17,000 square-foot casino, a 160 room condo/hotel, and 240 apartments. It will affect almost 4,000 feet of coastline that includes breaks such as Wishing Well, Wilderness, El Mix, and Pressure Point.
“Caribbean Management Group and the City of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico want to build a mega resort using a twenty-year-old permit on an ecologically sensitive piece of coastline in front of multiple great surf breaks,” says Kathy Hall, president of the Liga Ecológica del Noroeste (Northwest Ecological League). Mrs. Hall’s organization is seeking, “an injunction to stop building the access road until the proper environmental protocols and laws are followed,” she said.
Those in favor of building the resort are making the same old argument that it will bring jobs. At first blush that may not be a bad thing considering the current state of Puerto Rico’s economy. But to many in the surfing community, that’s nothing more than a red herring. According to a study by surfer Chad Nelsen and economist Linwood Pendleton of Duke University, surf tourism generates at least $53 million per year for Puerto Rico.
“The majority of people who visit this area of Puerto Rico do so to enjoy outdoor activities. Things like surfing, diving, and hiking,” said local restaurant owner Nastassia Cruz. “Besides the negative impact on the environment, this resort is going to block access to some really good surf spots. We already have a bunch of vacant hotels, why do they think they will be able to fill this one?”
Editor’s Note: You can learn more about the petition at change.org to stop construction of this new resort, or just learn more about the project itself through change.org.