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Opulent Lääneranna municipality bus shelter design raises eyebrows

Lääneranna Rural Municipality information board in Metsküla village (the school of the same name is in the background).
Lääneranna Rural Municipality information board in Metsküla village (the school of the same name is in the background). Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

A bus shelter in Western Estonia has attracted an unusual degree of media and social media attention due to its rather ostentatious fittings, namely a chandelier gracing its interior, Postimees reports.

While this might seem a curio on its own, the installation attracted criticism since it is in the same jurisdiction, Lääneranna Rural Municipality in Pärny County, which has seen two rural schools recently close, leaving many pupils, parents and staff high and dry.

The shelter, in the village of Oidrema, is around 30km from Metsküla, site of the school whose closure has attracted much media attention, with even the head of state getting involved.

At the start of the week, some of the 100 or so local residents, as well as others, were struck by the opening of the bus shelter – or more specifically its design details, Postimees reports, citing independent regional daily Lääne Elu

The centerpiece of a rather elegant chandelier in particular drew scorn from social media users as did the fact that the renovated shelter – used on average by 20 people per week day – cost the local authority €20,000, even as the two local schools have been closed down, and three others cut down in size.

A municipality spokesperson said that the shelter – which in this case may qualify for the rather more ornate term "bus waiting pavilion," as "bus shelter" is sometimes so translated – was designed with the architecture of some of the old manor houses in the area, and the felt need to fit in with this, in mind.

The entire electrical work on the facility, including the chandelier itself, cost no more than €900, the municipality says, while Lääneranna Municipal Mayor Ingvar Saare said that it was not requested by the municipality, but arose from collaboration between local community and contracting builder.

The original Postimees article with photos of the offending shelter is here.

The closure of the Metsküla school, named school of the year 2023 by ERR at the end of the last academic year, as well as the nearby Lõpe school, has fueled passions; currently, Metsküla pupils are being taught on an informal basis by the school's former staff.

Additionally Virtsu school, in the village of the same name which also hosts the main departure port for sailings to Saaremaa, was reduced in size to a four-grade.

Two other schools in the municipality, in Varbla and Koonga, were reorganized into six-grade establishments.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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