TT (Travel Times): How long have you worked at MRMPO? Where did you work previously? What was your first paid job?
DP (Dave Pennella): I've worked at MRMPO since July 2006, originally as TIP Coordinator. Previously, I worked 17 years for the New York State Department of Transportation as a planner, civil engineer, project manager, area maintenance director, and local government representative. Prior to NYSDOT, I worked 2 years as assistant director of a county planning commission in Vermont, 4 years as a science and social studies teacher, 4 years as a planner at the Alaska Department of Transportation in Fairbanks, and a cartographer with BLM. My first job after being a paperboy was picking cherries at a fruit farm in my home town.
TT: What are your main professional interests? What are some of your personal interests?
DP: Professionally, I really enjoy transportation and land use planning. I would have loved to have been a guy like Pierre L'Enfant or Walter Griffin who actually designed cities like Washington DC and Canberra, Australia. I also enjoyed being a cartographer, which was before GIS or even CADD; maps were produced on a drafting table with mylar and ink. There is something very creative about drawing a map by hand and seeing your creation as you draw it. Personal interests are reading, hiking, biking, travel, hockey, lacrosse, and soccer. I used to be a FIFA certified soccer ref.
TT: What are some MRMPO-related accomplishments you’re proud of?
DP: By far the main accomplishment has been to assemble and maintain a top-notch MPO staff. Every other accomplishment stems from having a quality MPO staff.
TT: What potential do you see for the region in terms of transportation and/or growth and development? Or, what is your dream vision of transportation in our region?
DP: The Albuquerque metro area has a lot to offer. Despite the setbacks with the ART project, I do believe it will have a positive impact on the city. Economic development and redevelopment along the Central corridor is already taking place. ART and future bus rapid transit (BRT) routes and the Rail Runner will provide an integrated transit network that will give Central New Mexico a high-level transit system offering real choices for residents and positive redevelopment in certain sections along those transit routes. Also exciting is the economic development occurring in Valencia County. Kudos to our member agencies there in securing these opportunities. The MPO needs to provide assistance in these types of efforts; economic development benefits that entire metro area not just the locale it is occurring in.
TT: What would you like people reading this newsletter to know about you or MRMPO that they might not already know?
DP: I am originally from western New York near Rochester, and grew up in a small Erie Canal town, Spencerport. I received my Bachelor's degree in geography and earth science from Trenton State College in New Jersey along with teaching certification in secondary education. While in Alaska, I did some graduate coursework at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. While my kids were in school, I was elected four times and served almost 12 years on our school district's Board of Education including 7 years as Board President.
TT: Best place to get a beer in the Albuquerque Metropolitan Planning Area?
DP: There is no one best place to go for beer. Just about all of the brew pubs are good.
TT: Favorite ice cream flavor?
DP: Pistachio and any "berry" flavor.