An attorney and veteran of several municipal boards and commissions has been tapped to head the parking authority in Springfield, Massachusetts. The appointment comes as the city is on the verge of a parking space crunch.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno announced Friday the selection of Mary McNally as the new executive director of the Springfield Parking Authority. He called her “eminently qualified” and said the appointment is part of a new direction at the authority.
" We want to send a message to the business community that parking is going to be a tool for economic development in the downtown."
McNally has been Chief Operating Officer in the office of Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni for the last three years. She had a private law practice in Springfield for 27 years. McNally is a former chair of the SPA board and a former member of the city’s police commission.
" My role and goal as executive director is to cooperate with all the economic development objectives that our economic development office has in store."
Her appointment as executive director of the parking authority – a position vacant for two years – completes a turnaround of the operations at the authority and a shoring up of its finances. The authority’s debt was restructured to save $1 million a year.
The parking authority owns and operates five parking garages and four parking lots in downtown Springfield. It also enforces parking at metered on-street spaces and collects revenue from parking tickets.
McNally said she wants people who park downtown to have a good experience.
" I really want to make the garages -- don't laugh -- appealing. I want to beautify them, make sure the lighting is good. And we'll be able to do that."
Two of the authority’s garages are located directly beneath Interstate 91. Hundreds of parking spaces will be lost, at least temporarily, while MassDOT replaces the highway decks. The project is scheduled to begin this fall and last three years.
At the same time, it’s expected MGM will be building a resort casino downtown. That project will eliminate hundreds of parking spaces in several private parking lots.
" Very challenging. But it is part of why I was interested in the position. It will be an opportunity to work out the solutions, and at the risk of sounding boastful I am pretty good at that," said McNally.
Springfield Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy said the city is looking into acquiring some property downtown to create more parking spaces.
" A parking crunch in the downtown, while it is a serious inconvenience, it is also an indication we have a lot of activity happening. So, that is a positive."
Kennedy said there have been discussions with the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority about funding repairs to the Civic Center garage. The 1,200- space garage was built in the 1970s. A study two years ago estimated it would cost $15 million to make necessary repairs and bring the structure up to current code for earthquake resistance.