Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Norm Jones, 40-year employee of City of Rochester, to retire

Norman Jones, commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Services, was a boy when the Inner Loop was built and is now a key figure in the talks of filling it in. He says the images behind him -- a map of Rochester before the Inner Loop and pictures of the development on the filled-in eastern portion -- guide him.
Norman Jones, commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Services, will retire at year’s end after spending about 40 years in city government.

You may not know Norm Jones by name, but his work over the last several decades has touched countless city residents.

Jones will retire at year’s end after spending about 40 years in city government. Mayor-elect Malik Evans announced Richard Perrin as his pick to replace Jones last week.

Jones started his career as a teen in 1977 at the Baden Street Recreation Center, where he was a summer employee. After college and a short stint in Syracuse, he was rehired in 1985 by the city of Rochester, where he’s worked ever since. In the following decades, he rose from a dispatcher to commissioner of the Department of Environmental Services, the city’s largest department. Former Mayor Lovely Warren selected him for that post eight years ago.

In a statement, Mayor James Smith said the city of Rochester’s built environment is synonymous with Jones.

“From the infrastructure to the operating systems to the people who provide the critical services that keep our city running in every weather condition, there is not a mile within Rochester’s 37-square-mile radius that isn’t better today because of his work. The legacy of Norman Jones will outlast all of our lifetimes,” said the statement.

Accounting for 28% of the city’s budget, about 600 employees make up the Environmental Services Department, employing everyone from engineers to mechanics to water quality experts and drivers. Jones oversees everything from snow removal and garbage pickup to major projects like filling in Inner Loop East and Roc City Skate Park.

“I think we have had an amazing portfolio of projects and initiatives that were on the drawing board for decades that in the last few years we’ve been able to pull off,” Jones said.

One of his proudest achievements came early in his career. In 1988, he established and managed Rochester’s citywide recycling program with a one-man collection team.

“It was the cause of us really being at the forefront of environmental stewardship in Rochester,” Jones said. “That was the start of something special, an amazing time in city government, an amazing time in the Department of Environmental Services.”

Other achievements include the city’s ongoing efforts to clean up brownfields in the city and the end of the decades-long effort to build La Marketa on North Clinton Avenue. The seasonal Latin market now hosts shops and restaurants in shipping containers across from St. Michael’s Church. In time, Jones hopes the market becomes an engine for economic growth in the area.

Jones said there’s not much unfinished business left from his career, but he said he’d like to see the city add another attraction that his department has been working on for a while — putting a zipline downtown.

"We got the skatepark done, but having the zipline at High Falls would be an amazing attraction downtown," Jones said.

As for retirement, the Rochester native said he expects to be pretty busy at his house.

“My wife has a long list of things for me to do,” Jones said. “She always says I take care of city buildings better than I take care of our home.”

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.