Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi to retire later this year
City Manager Richard C. Rossi informed the City Council on Friday, March 11 at the Government Operations, Rules, and Claims Committee meeting that he will retire when his contract expires on June 30, 2016.
Mr. Rossi has worked for the City for over four decades – including serving as Deputy City Manager from August 1982 through June 2013 and as City Manager since July 2013 when he succeeded Robert W. Healy.
Mr. Rossi explained that after working so long in the service of the city of his birth, he felt like it was time to dedicate more of his time to his family and other interests.
Though the departure of Mr. Rossi will be a substantial change, one of the hallmarks of the Cambridge City administration in recent years has been its remarkable bench strength – department heads and all those involved in maintaining the fiscal health of the City. There are more than a few people in the City administration who could step up to fill Mr. Rossi’s shoes or, at the very least, serve essential roles in the administration of any new City Manager.
In a city where various political factions have often clashed, Richard Rossi has long been viewed a "someone we can work with" by people on all sides. During his tenure as City Manager he has responded to concerns about vacancies on City Boards and Commissions by methodically reviewing all of the boards and deliberately making appropriate reappointments and new appointments to many of these boards. During his time as Deputy City Manager, Mr. Rossi was often seen as the "point man" on significant capital projects, and he earned the trust and admiration of the great majority of residents who had an interest in getting the best outcomes for projects that include renovations of the Cambridge Hospital, the Walter Sullivan Water Treatment Plant, City Hall Annex, the new Main Library, and various school renovation and reconstruction projects. Indeed, one of the things that both Robert Healy and Richard Rossi will be remembered for decades from now is their relentless focus on renewing the infrastructure of the city and its public buildings while maintaining the City’s fiscal health through it all. This is no simple task.
Speaking personally, Richard Rossi was our greatest ally during 1989-1991 when we were getting the City’s recycling program off the ground – long before environmental initiatives like this became a core part of the City’s play book. Deputy City Manager Lisa Peterson was our other great ally, and she has not wavered in her support during the more than two decades that followed. Rich Rossi earned my respect and friendship through those recycling initiatives as well as during the work of the Library 21 Committee and the Green Ribbon Open Space Committee. Any hesitance by then City Manager Bob Healy to be actively engaged with the public was more than compensated for by the presence of Rich Rossi.
On more than one occasion Rich Rossi has marveled to me in conversation about just how far we have come since those early days when were trying to figure out how best to create a citywide recycling program. That focus has now expanded to include transportation planning, energy conservation, and other initiatives. So many of the things we take for granted in City planning today evolved during the years with Robert Healy and Richard Rossi at the helm. I wish we could keep Richie in the Manager’s Office for another few years, but we will all be happy to simply express our gratitude for his dedication over these many years in helping to make Cambridge the city it is today. – Robert Winters