Türi central square reconstruction postponed as 'protection money' withheld

Architectural design of the planned reconstruction of Türi town center.
Architectural design of the planned reconstruction of Türi town center. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

With the so-called "protection money" promised by Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) no longer set to reach Türi Municipality, planned work to construct a new central square in Türi and a bridge across the Väätsa lake has been put on hold.

However, rather than abandoning its plans to rebuild the town center, Türi will instead try to complete the work in stages.

In the run up to the 2023 Riigikogu elections, Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets, had wanted to allocate €1.3 million in regional investment funds (so-called "protection money") to his home municipality of Türi.

However, Riigikogu's Finance Committee pulled the plug on that plan, as the investment falls outside the interior ministry's area of responsibility. Now, Türi Municipality has to decide whether to scrap the redevelopment plans, or find an alternative source of funding.

Mayor of Türi Municipality Kati Nõlvak, who is also a member of the SDE, admitted that she was aware of the Interior Minister's intention to allocate "protection money" to her municipality. However, she is in no hurry now to condemn her party colleague.

"At the end of the day, he did it very honestly, he did not conceal it," Nõlvak said. "The lists (of projects earmarked to receive "protection money" – ed.)  were very honest in stating to whom, to what extent and for what purpose (funds would be allocated)," she added.

In Nõlvak's view, the existing procedures to calculate the amount of support allocated to municipalities through the equalization fund is outdated. Due to rising energy costs, municipalities no longer have enough money left over for investments.

"Therefore, we urgently need more regional investments of this kind if we want Estonia to develop as a whole," said Nõlvak.

Pipi-Liis Siemann (Reform), leader of the opposition in Türi, considers Läänemets' behavior unethical, however, she does support the plans to rejuvenate the town center.

"Türi, like other municipalities, still has to ask for funds, which have been designated for projects. In my opinion, this is certainly not ethical," said Siemann.

Deputy mayor Elar Niglas (EKRE) said, that although the architectural competition to redesign the center of Türi had been successful and work could go ahead, the municipality could not afford to spend more than €3 million on the renovation project.

"Any additional funding would help speed up the implementation of this project," said Niglas. The municipality is certainly not in a position to build it entirely by itself. And that means there will be some delays to this project. However, the longer-term goal is certainly to get it done," he said.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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