Tallinn Reform leader disagrees with mayor's infrastructure project cuts

Kristen Michal (Reform).
Kristen Michal (Reform). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Major infrastructure projects in Tallinn, including a proposed hospital, which mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) says will need to be put on ice due to lack of funds, should in fact go ahead, says opposition Reform Party's chair in the city council chambers Kristen Michal. The trade off would be cuts in other areas Michal said were not needed, including in Russian-language news broadcasting.

Michal said that he took the diametrically opposite approach to the order of projects he would abandon, from those of the mayor.

"A crisis is a time when society and entrepreneurs are waiting for bold offers and decisions on what to do in the future. I would look for an opportunity to better connect Tallinn," Michal said.

"In fact, the city always has choices and as Tallinn is a prosperous place, the financial choices here are quite wide. Tallinn is not in a bad position, with the number of taxpayers growing every year. Urbanization is irreversible, which means we have to strive for better," he said.

In a radio interview with ERR's Indrek Kiisler Wednesday morning, Kõlvart said some major projects, such as a tunnel between Estonia puiestee and the Viru Keskus shopping center in central Tallinn, will not go ahead, while others, including the proposed new Tallinn hospital, may do if European Union money is forthcoming.

Michal said his and his party's priorities were somewhat different.

"I would put things in a slightly different order. I daresay that a new hospital, as regards people's quality of life in Tallinn, is definitely a matter where negotiations with the [national] government should continue, and I think it could go out until the change of government, if the government does not really support such a priority. could be in the coming years," said Michal.

Michal said he thought constructing the Estonia puiestee tunnel should go ahead, saying it would point the way to further such projects, as well as more cycle lanes and school buses.

"The city of Tallinn has opportunities for this, and, in fact, in cooperation with state and European funds, opportunities should be sought and addressed. As of now, the mayor has somehow raised his hands and given up, somewhat," Michal said.

Michal said the capital's transport network could be reviewed, with new routes invested in, not to mention the proposed Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel.

Cuts which Michal said could be made in order to find money for his party's proposed projects include various city media activity funding, including the broadcasting of PBK news shows, the Tallinn Development and Training Center (TAKK) and the Tallinn Linnamäe Russian Lyceum (Tallinna Linnamäe Vene Lütseum) Foundation.

For example, according to Michal, it is questionable to subscribe to news from the, PBK and the activities of the city media. According to Michal, winding up these activities would free up several million euros.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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