By G. Michael Dobbsnews@thereminder.com
SPRINGFIELD – With the possible construction of the MGM Springfield casino taking place with the repairs to the viaduct of Interstate 91, parking in downtown Springfield will present some challenges, but the new executive director of the Springfield Parking Authority (SPA) said she is up to the challenge.
“Frankly that is part of the why I was interested in the position,” Attorney Mary McNally said. “I like to work out the solutions for those things.”
She expects to join SPA on May 19.
Mayor Domenic Sarno named McNally as the permanent executive director at a press conference on May 9. At the same time, he announced that former Department of Public Works Director Al Chwalek would be the chair of the SPA board.
McNally has been an attorney practicing in Springfield for 27 years. She has been the chief operating officer and chief financial officer for Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni. She is no stranger to SPA as she has been the chair of board since 2010.
Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy said in the past two years SPA has undergone a number of improvements, including becoming financially viable.
“They’ve changed almost everything,” he said.
Sarno said that McNally “has been a key component” in the improvements at SPA.
The Springfield Parking Authority was “created by an act of the Legislature as a quasi-independent arm of the city,” Kennedy explained.
McNally, Kennedy and Sarno all see the SPA playing an important role in the economic development of the downtown. Sarno explained that funding coming from parking receipts and enforcement has been used to underwrite additional police protection downtown.
McNally said a re-financing of the SPA’s debt service generated $1 million annual savings, which has stabilized the organization.
One of the questions yet to be determined, she noted, was the Civic Center Garage. Although SPA has made some improvements there have been discussion of there should be a new facility built or if the state should take over the ownership as it did with the MassMutual Center.
McNally said currently SPA wants to remain the owner and make improvements.
For McNally the SPA’s mission is “all about community betterment.”