Frank P. Proto took over as chairman of the TCAT Board of Directors at its first meeting of the year on Thurs., Jan. 25.
Proto, a former long-time Tompkins County legislator and TCAT board member, follows David Howe, who served as the board’s chairman in 2017.
Proto said this year he will place heavy emphasis on strategic planning, as well as addressing TCAT’s need for a larger facility, which will be a long-term and costly project involving local, state and federal stakeholders. The purchase and acquisition of new Gillig buses next month, he said, will be a big help in replacing TCAT’s aging fleet.
“It is going to be a little bit of a challenging year, not that other years weren’t challenging, but the highlight at this point is that we will be receiving 11 new buses in February, which is the culmination of the work of many, many people,” said Proto, who has served on TCAT and its predecessor operating committee starting in the 1990s and served as head of the board several times over the years.
Howe, assistant dean of finance and administration at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, left TCAT’s board at the end of 2017 after more than five years of dedicated service. “David contributed his financial acumen and sound judgment as a proficient and accomplished financial professional during his service,” the board said in a resolution of appreciation to Howe at its December meeting.
The TCAT Board of Directors is structured as follows: The City of Ithaca, Tompkins County and Cornell University are TCAT’s local underwriters. TCAT was established as a joint venture of transit agencies from each in 1998, and later became a private, not-for-profit corporation, effective 2005. As such, each underwriter is entitled to nominate three people to serve on the board. Those recommended, in turn, are considered for election by the TCAT board and, in their capacity as TCAT board members, serve TCAT independently. (Proto has been long recommended by the county.)
To replace Howe on the board, Cornell nominated Denise Thompson, the university’s manager of Off-Campus Living. Thompson is familiar with TCAT as a long-time TCAT bus rider. She has provided feedback to TCAT and also promotes TCAT among the students she serves.
Others who will continue serving the TCAT board include Bridgette Brady, director of Cornell’s Department of Transportation and Mail Services (recommended by Cornell) who is the board’s secretary-treasurer this year; Jennifer Dotson, Ithaca Carshare executive director and former Ithaca Common Council alderperson (recommended by the city); Bill Gray, former superintendent of the city’s Department of Public Works, who is the board’s immediate past chairman this year (having served as the last chairperson in 2016 and who still remains on the board); John Gutenberger, former senior advisor of Cornell’s Office of Community Relations (recommended by Cornell); Dan Klein, Tompkins County legislator (recommended by the county); Ducson Nguyen, Ithaca Common Council alderperson, recommended by the city, and Peter Stein, former Tompkins County legislator, recommended by the county.
The board last night approved committee recommendations as follows:
Executive Committee: Proto (chair), Brady, Gray and Nguyen; Audit Committee: Stein (chair), Gray and Thompson; Budget Committee: Gray (chair), Dotson and Gutenberger: Human Resources: Brady (chair), Dotson and Proto: Planning Committee: Klein (chair), Gutenberger and Nguyen; and Transit Service: Nguyen (chair), Klein, Stein and Thompson. Non-board members to serve on the Transit Service Committee are Fernando de Aragón, who is Executive Director of the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council, and Donna Fleming, who is TCAT’s liaison to the Tompkins County Council of Governments. Fleming is also an Ithaca Common Council alderperson.