|By G. Michael Dobbs|
SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Parking Authority (SPA) reported on its ongoing program to fund additional police patrols downtown on Sept. 18, and according to James Leydon, Mayor Domenic Sarno’s director of Communications, “the overall consensus is pretty positive.”
The day after the meeting Leydon and Ehsanul H. Bhuiya, SPA’s interim parking manager and comptroller, spoke to Reminder Publications about the program that started in June.
Leydon explained the Springfield Police Department manages the use of the additional funding and decides how resources should be deployed. He did say that an additional police presence would probably be seen at Falcons and Armor games as well as Springfield Forum presentations.
To date, he added, the additional funds have been used for motorcycle and walking patrols on Fridays and Saturdays.
Bhuiya said that because SPA has refinanced its debt and has a new parking vendor it now has additional funds to pay the city in lieu of taxes. Since June, SPA has paid about $25,000 a month on average.
He added that SPA has a private security firm patrolling the parking lots from 180 to 200 hours a week and will be adding more security cameras.
Bhuiya said he wanted to have the discussion with representatives of the Springfield Business Improvement District, City Stage and Symphony Hall, as well as business and building owners.
Leydon said there were some concerns expressed from Evan Plotkin, the president and owner of NAI Plotkin, a real estate brokerage and management company, who said a business which is considering moving into downtown has questioned the safety of the parking garages underneath Interstate 91.
Rudi Scherff, owner of The Student Prince restaurant, also expressed concern about how the media reports on downtown, Leydon said. He added that Scherff has fielded calls from people “who would like to come down, but are afraid to.”
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