Parliament to decide on handing over military islands to City of Helsinki
A working group considering the future use of a number of islands off Helsinki that are currently controlled by the Finnish Defence Forces says that a final decision on possibly handing control of the islands to the City of Helsinki should be made by the Finnish Parliament.
The reason is the exceptional cultural and historical value of the islands.
The working group, which has been meeting for a year, includes representatives of the City of Helsinki, as well as the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Education, and the National board of Antiquities.
Chairing the working group is Mikael Nordqvist, head of the Real Estate Department of the City of Helsinki. One of the issues under consideration is who should have ownership of the islands. One possibility is for the state to hand over the islands to Helsinki.
Another option is to keep the islands under state ownership. The land area is currently held by Metsähallitus, the organisation administering forest and other land areas owned by the state. The buildings are owned by the state-run Senate Properties.
Nordqvist himself does not see the ownership of the islands to be a crucial issue. “What is most important is that we get the islands open for use.”
The Ministry of Defence announced at the beginning of October that a report would be drawn up in cooperation with various state officials by the end of next year. Many were left with the impression that a separate working group would be established.
Helsingin Sanomat has learned that exactly who will draw up the report remains open.
The Ministry of Defence says that the report will be done by a group headed by Nordqvist. However, Nordqvist himself was surprised to hear this.
“I don’t know if this is the case”, Nordqvist said on Friday. “It was left a bit unclear to me what working group was meant.”
Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen (Nat. Coalition Party) sees the recreational use of two of the islands, Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari, to be the more likely alternative. In his view, Helsinki has quite sufficient amounts of shoreline areas to build on.
“We do not need to build housing there for its own sake. Use that serves the residents of the city, and tourism are key factors.”
Neither Vallisaari nor Kuninkaansaari have been in residential use in more than a decade.
The installations there have offered a good exercise area for soldiers and other officials.
As they have been in military use, no extensive studies on the natural and cultural value of Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari have been made.
Some of the old buildings on the islands are in good shape, while others are on the verge of collapse.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Defence Forces to withdraw from four islands off Helsinki (6.10.2008)