LAWRENCE — Mayor Daniel Rivera has nominated Lowell’s economic development director as the city’s first planning director since January 2010 in a major shift from the development policies of former Mayor William Lantigua, who kept the post vacant for four years.
If approved by the City Council, Theresa Park would hold one of four top development positions under a new mayor who has promised to make jobs and growth a focus of his administration.
In January, Rivera named Abel Vargas as director of business development and said he will retain James Barnes as director of community development. He has not named a director of inspectional services, which would round out his development team.
The inspectional services job also was left vacant for four years under Lantigua, who fired Myles Burke from the post as part of a purge at City Hall during his first days in office. Rivera has said he may delay filling that job while he decides how to reorganize the four development departments under a single umbrella.
“Having a planning director is not just about putting somebody in a seat,” Rivera said yesterday about choosing Park for the post. “It’s about showing the state, the lending community, the business community that you’re going to put somebody in that position who’s credentialed and experienced to help us solve our problems.”
Park, a Lowell resident, has been Lowell’s economic development director since 2007 and also has held development and planning jobs in Haverhill, Cambridge and Newton. Her resume notes she has run three marathons and did a 500-mile bicycle ride in Alaska to raise money for AIDS research.
In Lowell, she played a key role in helping the Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union win the financing and other approvals needed to build a new downtown headquarters, which kept hundreds of jobs in the city, said Ken Goode, a vice president as MassDevelopment, the state’s development and finance authority.