A Conservationist Before Conservation Was Cool

Everett’s Jon Norton cut a conservationists edge long before it was cool to be resilient, progressive or any other term associated with climate change and environmental causes.

The life-long Everett resident stood proud of that record on Monday, stating clearing that he has been a member of the Conservation Commission for the past 34 years.

“I have been on the Con Com since 1985 and I haven’t missed a single meeting since 1995,” he said proudly this week of his service on the all-volunteer board.

But beyond that, Norton was an advocate for recycling, for restoring access the waterfront and for other environmental issues long before it was a priority in City Hall.

He was the recycling director and brought the recycling company RecycleBank to Everett many years ago. That was his passion, and Mayor Carlo DeMaria recognized it in a ceremony on Monday.

“You were the first person to be in City Hall talking about recycling and getting access to the waterfront,” said the mayor. A lot of people used to run away from you because they didn’t know what you were talking about. It was before its time. Now we are putting into place the many things you were telling us about years ago.”

That was followed by a touching tribute whereby the new Rain Garden on Wyllis Avenue was named after Jon Norton – the fruition of a policy, that being stormwater absorption, for which he fought for so many years.

Norton was born and raised in Everett, going to the Lafayette School, the Parlin Middle and to the old Everett High. He attended Salem State College and go his Master’s Degree. He was a mathematics teacher for many years before retiring.

On the Conservation Commission, Norton said the crowning work of his tenure was on Encore Boston Harbor – where scores of meetings were held and hundreds of hours spent on going over the environmental aspects of the project.

“We did all of our work with the Encore project,” he said. “The Con Com oversees the Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act and nothing could go on down there without us. The biggest thing we did was reviewing that project, no question. It was a unique project…They did everything they said they were going to do. We had no problem giving them a Certificate of Completion for everything before us.”

Norton is also very active on the Mystic Valley Elder Services Board, and also Community Family Services in Everett.

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