Joined by Viljandi city leaders, the councils of three municipalities belonging to the region of Southern Estonia known as Mulgimaa — Tõrva, Mulgi and Viljandi — held their first joint sitting in Taagepera earlier this week. On the agenda were issues including how to organize mutual cooperation and whether a shared historical cultural background could help enliven the economy.
The biggest joint challenge that lays ahead for the Mulk people is the construction of a landmark visitors' center at Sooglemäe Farm. Plans for the center have been in the works for some time already, but now locals are hopeful that the old farm can finally be fixed up once and for all.
"Planning will conclude in December," Tõrva Municipal Mayor Maido Ruusmann said. "An expert analysis will take place in January, and then in terms of construction, the time will be ripe to start organizing construction procurements. We hope to begin actual construction work in the first half of 2020."
According to current plans, the center is expected to be finished by the end of 2021.
Prior to this week, the three municipalities comprising the Mulgimaa region had never held a joint sitting before. For tourists, it may not be important where the historical borders of the region ran, and some consider Viljandi the heart of the region.
Former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves had long since recommended that the Mulks form their own municipality, similarly to the Setos in Southeastern Estonia forming Setomaa Municipality in the course of the nationwide administrative reform in 2017. Local leaders, however, found that it's possible to cooperate without merging local governments as well.
"We have no reason to start getting bogged down in formalities," Viljandi Mayor Madis Timpson said. "We should cooperate. I think the City of Viljandi would benefit from a big and strong Mulgimaa. And I believe that Mulgimaa will benefit from Viljandi being very strong as a county seat."
Editor: Aili Vahtla