Thomas Paul Niederkorn
Albany - City Planner and Community Arts Leader, Thomas Paul Niederkorn, died Saturday June 6, 2020 in Albany NY. Born August 7, 1928 in Greenville, Ohio to Norbert and Julia (McGreevey) Niederkorn, Tom graduated from Greenville High School and went on to earn degrees in Architecture and City Planning from Miami of Ohio with advanced degrees in Planning and Urban Design from the University of California at Berkeley. He served in the United States Army from 1955-57 in Japan.
Tom's life in Ithaca began in 1957 when the Greater Ithaca Regional Planning Board, organized by community leaders from the City and Town of Ithaca, Cayuga Heights and Lansing, brought Tom to town as resident planner on loan from the New Jersey consulting firm Community Planning Associates to develop a plan for the Ithaca Urban Area.
When the Plan was completed in 1959, Tom went off to Europe for a year but was recruited back to become Planning Director for the City in the early '60s where he served until forming Egner and Niederkorn Associates in 1966 with Anton Egner, Cornell Campus Planner and Architect. In the 70's he founded Planning Environmental Research Associates which he headed until retiring in 2008.
The next phase of Tom's life was to resound with great benefits to the community, beginning in 1967 with securing the funding for complete redesign and development of the Cass Park complex into a major regional recreation and cultural facility. A principal feature of the complex was the concrete block building that had been the old Ithaca Airport, a Depression-era public works project dedicated in 1934 and eventually used extensively in WWII as a pilot training base. Tom saw the opportunity presented by the abandoned building and it was there that the Center for the Arts/Hangar Theatre was born.
Veterans of the long slow fight to create a professional theater in the park acknowledged Tom's contribution by formally dedicating the main stage in the totally renovated building the "Niederkorn Stage." Today, the Hangar Theatre and surrounding parkland stands as a tribute to Tom's drive and leadership that convinced others to see what was possible and to surmount numerous obstacles over the years. He was also named Champion of the Arts by the Community Arts Partnership which he helped found.
Tom served the community in other ways - as a member of the Ithaca Town Board 2000-04 and as Vice Chair of the Tompkins County Democratic Party for many years. In 2001, he was recognized for his contributions to the planning profession by induction into the AICP College of Fellows, the highest honor the American Institute of Certified Planners bestows upon a member.
Predeceased by sister Mary Jane Fridge, survivors include sister Elizabeth Milliman, longtime companion and friend Barbara Blanchard, and many nieces, nephews and cousins. In noting his passing, one cousin observed "He was one of the few men who could wear an ascot and not look pretentious."
Services are delayed until future notice. Remembrances may be made to The Hangar Theater, P.O. Box 205, Ithaca, NY. Online condolences may be expressed at www.NewComerAlbany.com