As executive director of the Worcester Redevelopment Authority , Michael Latka
has helped bring about two of the cornerstones of the city's revitalization : Union Station , seen here , and the new Worcester Medical Center.
Three WPI alumni , John H. McCabe '68 , chairman of the WRA board of directors , Michael Latka
'71 , executive director of the WRA , and Cindy Blondin '92 ( M.S. ) , the WRA's assistant director of engineering , have been instrumental in restoring the station to its former glory.
...Latka holds a management degree from WPI and an M.B.A. from Western New England College and is a member of the Urban Land Institute , the American Institute of Certified Planners and the American Planning Association
.He was assistant city manager for development and director of the city manager's Office of Planning and Community Development before being appointed to his current post in 1991
Union Station is the focal point of a $1 billion economic development effort that includes a medical complex , a convention center , an outlet mall , and the Massachusetts Turnpike/Route 146 connection projects , says Latka
.The city needs Union Station to strengthen the success of these projects , facilitate the movement of people in and out of downtown , and increase community activity and pride..
As executive director , Latka
works with a six-member staff , under the oversight of the board of directors , to identify and implement urban renewal plans within Worcester and to secure funding for them.In recent years his
focus has been split between the four-year , $43 million Union Station restoration and the nearby $280 million Worcester Medical Center project.
A major project like Union Station or Worcester Medical Center requires you to utilize all of your academic and professional experience , says Latka
.Financial , engineering , planning and political skills are all stretched to the limit.But the satisfaction of restoring a historic structure or creating new opportunities for economic development where decadent and blighting influences have languished for years is indescribable.That defines public service for me..
Working out of WRA offices recently moved to the station , Blondin and Latka say they thrive in their jobs despite the pressures.
Now that the first phase of the renewal is complete , Latka
is concentrating on the financial partnership components of the complex form of historic tax credits through to the master developer agreement with Finard.Partnerships with the MBTA and Amtrak and leasing deals are in the works.