Narva wants former tank monument land swap to build more housing

Candles at the site of the former Narva tank monument.
Candles at the site of the former Narva tank monument. Source: Dmitri Fedotkin/ERR

The city of Narva wants to exchange the plot on which the infamous tank monument previously stood, with the Ministry of the Interior, for state-owned land upon which to build new residential properties.

Mayor Katri Raik said, that the properties will be used to house Estonian-speaking teachers, medics and employees of the new magnet factory, which will soon be built in the city. The Ministry of the Interior had previoulsy announced that it wants to use the site for a new drone surveillance system.

"We urgently need to build rental properties for teachers, doctors, nurses, and our growing business community, therefore, we asked for a land exchange involving the district including Rakvere tänav and Sepa tänav. This is a beautiful location  by the river, which would be a perfect place for rental properties," Narva Mayor Katri Raik told ERR on Tuesday.

Based on the recommendation of its architecture and urban planning department, the Narva city government has made a proposal to Ministry of the Interior to exchange the property at 175 Jõesuu tänav, where the tank monument was previously located, for seven properties, six of which are located on Tolli tänav and Tolli põiktänava, with the seventh on Sepa tänav.

"This issue has been discussed by the municipal property committee (Linnavarakomisjon), and I have also consulted with members of the council. We found, that simply transferring the land (pn which the tank monumnet was located), at a value of €63.91, and the real estate offices' preliminary valuation of €5,600, seemed unfair," Raik explained.

The municipality therefore felt, that the right thing to do would be to ask the state to exchange the plot for land, which would be suitable for building rental properties. "Once again, we are not asking for land from the state to build a shopping center or hotel, but to build housing. I dare say, that our proposal is a fair offer," the mayor said.

Raik said, that the city would like to build at least a hundred apartments on these plots, stressing that detailed plans for the area have already been drawn up.

"We are currently talking about one larger rental property there and then about allocating these residential plots to specialists. However, we have not yet made any precise calculations. It is already at the stage where an architectural competition is needed (for the design)," the mayor said.

Raik said, that the apartments woud be built with teachers, medics and engineers at the city's soon-to-be constructed magnet factory would be considered in mind.

"Clearly, all the educational changes, the transition to Estonian-language education, which will start in 2024 but is getting more demanding every year, will require at least a hundred new teachers," she said.

"At the moment, we are also preparing for the construction of a magnet factory, which will employ 350 people. That will need engineering graduates, which you certainly won't find in Narva. We are also talking about investing in our hospital, where we urgently need new doctors, because the average age of the doctors (we currently have) is approaching retirement age. So, there are a lot of challenges like that in Narva."

"A year ago, I would have been solemn-faced when I talked about the lack of jobs, but now with the EU's Just Transition Fund, which has given a boost to development and attracted investments in Narva, instead we have to talk about rental properties," Raik said.

The mayor also stressed that not built a single new residential building has gone up in Narva in the whole of the 21st century. "In the context of Tartu or Pärnu, for example, it would sound very strange if no new residential buildings had been built, wouldn't it?" she said.

According to Raik, Narva is now waiting for a response from the Ministry of the Interior before it can move forward. "In whichever way the ministry answers, that is how we will move forward. We certainly do not want to procrastinate, because it is clear that we all understand, that the development of a radar system in the situation we are in today is essential. So, it's not at all a question of the sooner the better," she said.

"As a former Minister of the Interior, I understand the importance of the radar system, and I also know how good or bad the visibility of the Narva River border is. So, in that sense, the establishment of a radar system is definitely important," Raik added.

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) is planning to establish 15 additional radar positions in Ida-Viru County. The PPA also wants to set up a modern drone surveillance system to improve border security, at the site between Narva and Narva-Jõesuu, where the now infamous tank monument was located until it was removed in August.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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