The town of Rincón is undergoing intense pressure to build up to accommodate more and more visitors and has become the poster child of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) advertising campaigns. More than fifty years ago a historical event changed Rincón forever. The 1968 World Surfing Championship showed the world the fine waves of our town and the northwest of the Island in general. For more than fifty years traveling and local surfers have come to Rincón, and many have stayed and made it their home. Unfortunately, our small-town feel and tourism-driven economy have made it an attractive place for developers, sometimes at the expense of our natural resources and quality of life. It is evident that things are changing in Rincón, and very quickly.
In 2018, a project for a large (200+ room) hotel and casino was announced for Rincón. The proposed site was in the marina area of Rincón, which was (and still is) already the target of intense pressure to develop and possibly the worst possible location for a project of this size. This project led to significant resistance from the community (www.rinconvsbluewater.com) and led to the foundation of Salva Rincón!, an organization that has been built on the foundation laid upon by several successful environmental efforts from the past decades.
Since 2018, many other projects have been proposed and constructed, including cuts into hillsides and unnecessary and complete clearing of hilltops, leading to excessive runoff flowing directly into the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve and other sensitive coral reef areas. These muddy runoffs are poison to corals, of which several endangered species reside in the marine reserve. Some projects have received enforcement actions from federal agencies.
Salva Rincón! is not opposed to progress and development. In fact, quite the contrary. We want to foster and encourage environmentally responsible, appropriately scaled development in Rincón, adjusted to neighbor concerns and in accordance with state and federal regulations, while protecting at all costs the crown jewel of Rincón: the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve.
BIRTH OF SALVA RINCON!
The announcement of a new 250-room hotel and casino to be built in Rincón as an initiative of the Tourism Company to develop tourism in the northwest of the Island was the igniting factor in the birth of Salva Rincón!. Until then, Rincón was pretty much a sleepy town with a lot of tourists during the season and the announcement shocked many.
How big is a 250-room hotel? How is it going to affect our lives? Why do we need a 250-room hotel and casino, when at that time Rincón was in economic good health, much better than most towns?
Like most organizations, we started small, but the quality and commitment of the people involved was high. Many professionals, including ocean scientists, economists, urban planners, architects, and engineers with experience in hotel and casino construction and management made themselves available to Salva Rincón! The contributions of these volunteers as well as widespread community support were critical in organizing our thoughts about how we were going to address the situation. Our opposition to the project was based on the following concerns: