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Sākumlapa NewsRāviņš: “To achieve peace, we must create peace.”
Rāviņš: “To achieve peace, we must create peace.”
27/12/2023

“During this festive anticipation, we often hear: “Let peace reign on Earth…” However, how often do we ponder that peace on Earth begins with the tranquility within our families, with empathy and respect for our fellow beings right here, in our city. Yes, we are diverse, but fundamentally, each of us is a person capable of creating peace around us. May our home – Jelgava – be a place where everyone feels safe and content. Today, a predictable and stable tomorrow has become the most precious gift that the new year, 2024, can offer us,” emphasizes Andris Rāviņš, Chairman of the Jelgava City Council, underlining that this should be the priority in both the city’s and each Jelgavian’s daily life.

In evaluating this year, the Chairman of the Council acknowledges that each year brings different tasks and goals, yet the mainstay for Jelgava remains how comfortable its residents feel in the city. “The yardstick for this is stability in vital aspects of our residents’ lives – the urban environment, employment, the quality of education and cultural accessibility, economic growth, and welfare. Our collective strength lies in our ability to take steps forward and execute projects aimed at the city’s development, fostering a city environment friendly to its residents,” notes A. Rāviņš.

 

However, this year started off tense – when approving the city’s budget in February, it did not include any new development projects. Why?

 

This wasn’t because Jelgava wasn’t ready to act, but rather because the state budget hadn’t been confirmed at that time. The conditions for municipalities to borrow funds for project implementation were unknown. This was our challenge this year – being prepared for different scenarios when the state again alters or delays conditions for project development or approval. And we were prepared! We have a clear set of city priorities and tasks to carry out. Projects have been developed, and their implementation can start as soon as there is an opportunity to secure funding. It’s about the long-term development of the city. As this year draws to a close, we can highlight several significant projects for Jelgava residents, the implementation of which we rapidly began this year. One of the most anticipated is undoubtedly the reconstruction of Aizsargu Street and the roundabout. It’s a project for which we have been trying to attract co-funding for years, arguing to the Ministry of Transport the necessity to reconstruct a street that was practically on the verge of collapse. Finally, this summer it was successful, and now residents can already feel the results. The section of Aizsargu Street to the city border has been restored, and asphalt has been laid in the roundabout. However, the work is not finished yet, and next year the road towards Mežciems will be arranged. But the next task is the renovation of Miera Street because only then can we say that the bypass, which is a significant transit artery, has been completely renewed.

 

We have just submitted an application for funding from European funds for the construction of a new kindergarten. When can the families of city residents expect the new kindergarten?

 

We have submitted the project application, and we anticipate that the new kindergarten on Nameja Street should be built by the end of 2026. However, in parallel, this year we started the renovation of the surrounding street infrastructure. By 2025, three sections of streets – 2nd and 3rd Line and Nameja Street – will have been reconstructed, and a new street section will have been built alongside the kindergarten, providing all the necessary infrastructure. The project is ambitious, and then another city block will be refurbished.

 

This year has been significant for the city with several crucial investments in the field of education.

 

Yes, because it’s not just words when we say that education is a priority in Jelgava. In September, we unveiled the most modern engineering high school in the country – Jelgava Technology Secondary School. While getting acquainted with the school’s opportunities, the President of the State emphasized that future engineers will definitely grow here! And that’s our goal – for the 22 million euros invested in complete school reconstruction and innovative teaching tools to create an environment where students can acquire not only theoretical but also highly practical knowledge in engineering sciences. An observatory has been built on the school’s roof. In the courtyard, there is a workshop where students build electric cars. Children start learning programming skills from the very first grades. And these opportunities can be used not only by students of the Jelgava Technology Secondary School but also by students from other educational institutions in the city.

 

Meanwhile, in the spring, we opened the ‘Alnītis’ kindergarten together with city families.

 

This year, we have also begun the reconstruction of the stadium at Jelgava Centre Primary school to create a modern learning environment for sports activities, extracurricular education, and natural experiments. Additionally, a construction project is underway for the Spīdola State Gymnasium library building, stadium renovation, and improvement of the surrounding area. At Pārlielupe Primary school, we will build a modern skate park along Loka maģistrāle and afterward, a modern stadium for the school. Yet, I want to emphasize again that no matter how innovative the learning environment or method is, it’s an enthusiastic teacher that guarantees knowledgeable students. The state needs to realize that it’s high time to invest not in school reforms but in valuing the significance of educators.

 

How is the development of Zemgale Industrial Park progressing at present?

 

This year, we expect to sign a contract for the development of Zemgale Industrial Park. We have secured European funding, and the total project cost is 24.2 million euros. In the first phase of the project, we will renovate segments of Atmodas Street, Lapskalna Street, and Slokas Street, as well as improve part of Meiju Road. By arranging infrastructure across the park’s 350-hectare area, new businesses will be able to enter and develop industries such as bioeconomy, smart energy, information and communication technologies, and smart materials. This will be an invaluable benefit not only for Jelgava but also for the economic activity of the entire region.

 

However, the municipality recently terminated a building rights agreement with the first company that had planned to develop its business in this area. What will happen next?

 

The municipality can create infrastructure for business development but cannot guarantee that the entrepreneur’s plans will come to fruition. That is precisely why the municipality’s task is to closely monitor the implementation of each project and the fulfillment of contractual obligations. In this case as well, we regularly monitored the “SP Austrumi” investment project to build a solar energy production park on the former airfield territory. Initially, there were no signs that the project might fail. The entrepreneur fulfilled the contract conditions. However, after some time, the activity slowed down, and the planned actions were not implemented. When we had doubts about whether the company could invest the promised funds in the territory, we terminated the agreement from our side. However, the unsuccessful implementation of one company’s project in no way affects the city’s plans to build the Zemgale Industrial Park.

 

Currently, the city’s industrial zones are practically full, and this is dictated by the work of the city’s entrepreneurs – to build a new industrial park in the city to continue business development.

 

There are almost 4000 economically active companies registered in our city. In Jelgava, the turnover of industrial products reached 328 million euros in 2022, which is a 22% increase. Although the turnover in the local market has slightly decreased, Jelgava’s commodity exports continue to rise. These indicators indirectly reflect in the city’s budget through income tax paid by entrepreneurs. In 2022, income tax revenues in Jelgava increased by 7.3 million euros, totaling 47.6 million euros.

 

Can you provide an update on the plan to start building rental apartments in the city next year?

 

The construction of rental homes is an important step both in attracting new specialists and supporting Jelgava’s families. Therefore, the project by “Jelgavas Īres Nami” for low-rental housing construction on Ganību Street in the city is highly anticipated. In October, the council approved the results of the land auction, where contenders who intended to build such houses under the “Altum” support program could participate. The construction company plans to start soon. The total investment in the project will be around 12 million euros. It is planned that the apartments in these buildings will range from 25 to 75 square meters and will be available for rent to specific groups of residents who have difficulties purchasing housing at market prices.

 

How successful have the projects initiated in the city been up to now?

 

The most important thing is that absolutely all projects that have been started in the city are currently ongoing. The most significant among them is the reconstruction of Pilssalas Street and the construction of a modern water tourism and sports base on the banks of the Lielupe River. This project is expected to be completed next year. It’s pleasing that finally, near the city hospital, ahead of schedule, the unfinished maternity hospital has been demolished. In its place, a new building for the Infectious Diseases Department and the Chronic Patient Care Department will be constructed, further developing the hospital’s services for Jelgava residents. The construction of the registry office building in Raiņa Park turned out to be complex this year. The winning company in the tender failed to fulfill its obligations, and the construction contract deadline was repeatedly extended. Finally, the municipality terminated the contract with the unscrupulous builder. A new tender was announced, and work on the site has not stopped. Later than planned, but next year, the registry office will have its new home in Raiņa Park.

 

How do you overall assess this year?

 

As highly dynamic and emotionally charged! This year has given us so many reasons to be proud of ourselves, so many reasons to feel the unique solidarity among people that seems to occur rarely in any given year. Our hockey players winning medals in May truly made us, the sixth player, celebrate like it was a national holiday! In September, our basketball players reached new heights in the world cup. In July, the Song and Dance Festival thrilled and united thousands. And throughout all of these events, Jelgava residents were present with their work, support, and involvement. Let’s not lose this sense of unity in our daily routines because it is the strength that allows us to achieve new and sometimes seemingly unattainable goals. Here’s to a successful 2024 for all of us together!