H. Matthys Van Cort has 42 years experience as a professional planner.
Mr. Van Cort has expertise in a broad range of subjects, but particularly in economic development. With his deep experience, he is able to counsel local governments on strategic planning and economic development projects.
Below is his CV:
City of Ithaca, Department of Planning and Development — 1973 to 2009
City Hall, 108 East Green Street, Ithaca, NY 14850
Director of Planning and Development (May 1975 to Present)
Planning Director (April 1973 to May 1975)
Executive Director of Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency (August 1980 to Present)
Joined small department, which handled traditional planning functions, such as zoning and master plan development. Directed expansion of department’s scope to encompass critical city-activities, including community development, economic revitalization and grants applications and administrations.
- Led development of highly successful, award winning pedestrian mall (one of the first in New York State) to revitalize central business district. Responsible for all phases of project development and implementation.
- Directed planning, solicited developers, obtained federal funding and negotiated with banks for construction of several major downtown mixed use projects.
- Participated in workout with local banks for failed downtown anchor department store. Obtained federal funding, assisted in attracting tenant and participated in restructuring of private financing.
- Directed planning, land purchase, funding, construction and leasing of city’s industrial parks.
- Directed successful commercial revitalization program in secondary commercial area of West State Street, including street/sidewalk improvements and building façade renovation.
- Directed revitalization of Collegetown (mixed use district adjacent to Cornell University), including financing, siting and design of city-owned parking structure; negotiated financing and design of privately-owned 64-unit apartment building; oversaw plans for street/sidewalk improvements.
Housing and Neighborhood Conservation
- Instrumental in establishment and operation of Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, an award-winning nonprofit housing rehabilitation corporation active in city’s low income areas. Served as board member from inception to present. Serve as Chair of Executive Committee. Negotiated funding for INHS through state and federal grants and private sector sources.
- Directed major zoning ordinance revision to protect residential neighborhoods from conversion of single family homes to multiple occupancy.
- Persevered in long term struggle to make traffic calming official policy for City. First $400,000 in traffic calming devices is out to bid as of this writing.
- Established an aggressive grants program, making Ithaca a model for successful utilization of state, federal and regional funding programs.
Other Departmental Activities
- Directed staff and participated in a wide variety of other projects and programs including:
Education: Worked with school district on problems of declining enrollment and under utilization of space.
Health Care: Directed staff and negotiated with physicians, county hospital and regional funding sources to establish health care facility in downtown. Responsible for funding, design and construction.
Environment: Supervised drafting of city’s local environmental law, served as “lead agency” in numerous environmental reviews.
Recreation: Supervised staff work on numerous park, playground, trails and other recreation and open space projects; reviewed designs for construction; secured funding for implementation. Persistent advocate for trail system connecting City neighborhoods to each other, City parks and surrounding State parks. Construction of first two sections completed in 2002. Additional sections under design.
Communications: Serve as city lead in negotiation for cable television refranchising.
Transportation: Served as city’s representative and chair of review committee for highly controversial highway project. Supervised production of city bikeway plan.
Information systems: Spearheaded creation of City of Ithaca’s GIS. Supervised and fought for development of system through multi-jurisdictional cooperation.
New York City Department of City Planning (June 1968 to March 1973)
Bronx Local Area Office, 1780 Grand Concourse, Bronx, New York 10457
Planner (March 1972 to April 1973)
Assistant Planner (April 1971 to March 1972)
Junior Planner (October 1969 to April 1971)
Housing, Planning and Development Aid (June 1968 to October 1969)
Responsible for planing of recreation and environmental systems for the Bronx, including zoning, mapping, Capital Budget project evaluation, siting, implementation and coordination with other city agencies and community groups. Supervised mapping of borough-wide information system. Member of five person Staff Program Committee which helped determine program, staffing and priorities for Bronx Office of the Department of City Planning. Project Planner for Mayor’s special task force on decentralization of municipal services. Served as link between city government and Bronx Community Planning District #13 on all planing and community development issues. Responsible for neighborhood stabilization program, including siting and design supervision of small parks, traffic improvements, street lighting, sanitation and police equipment, upgrading and extensive community liaison work.
Pratt Center for Community Improvement
Department of City Planning, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York
Planning Assistant (June 1966 to October 1967)
Worked on planning studies, including field studies of land use and building information. Prepared written and graphic presentation material. Responsible for collection of data and writing of Central Brooklyn “Communi9ty Information Manual”. Siting and project management for construction of a vest pocket park in Ocean Hill-Brownsville.
Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, Board Member 1977 to present
Tompkins County Area Development Corporation, Board Member 1980 to present (ex officio since 1983)
Route 96 Design Committee, Chair 1978 to 1990
New York State Council on the Arts – Architecture, Planning and Design Panel, Chair 1987, Member 1985 to 1986
LECTURES AND SPEECHES
Guest Lecturer and Critic at Cornell University and Ithaca College on a wide variety of subjects including: public/private real estate partnerships; project siting, financing, and construction; design of public open space; bikeway design and promotion; reuse of changing waterfront areas; the environmental review process; and land use control through zoning, subdivision and environmental regulations.
Speaker and panelist at conferences sponsored by numerous organizations including New York State Urban Development Corporation, Council for Urban Economic Development, New York State Department of State, and Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation.
Frequent participation on local radio and TV programs; speaker at local service clubs.
Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York. M.S. (Planning), 1971
Department of City and Regional Planning
Fellow – U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1967-69
Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. B.A. with Honors, 1964
Major: College of Letters
Sorbonne, Paris, France spring semester 1962
Pleasantvile High School, Pleasantville, New York. Valedictorian, 1960