Mayor Slay Appoints Greg Hayes Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry as Gary Bess Announces Retirement After 40 Years of Public Service

Hayes, former Forestry Commissioner, replaces Gary Bess, who retired on December 31, 2014.

January 5, 2015 | 2 min reading time
trees and park bench

Mayor Francis Slay has appointed Greg Hayes as the new Director of the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry. Hayes, former Forestry Commissioner, replaces Gary Bess, who retired on December 31, 2014.

The Department has five divisions:  Parks, Recreation, Forestry, Operation Brightside, and the Soulard Market. Hayes will oversee the department's 400 year-round and 400 seasonal employees, as well as an annual budget of $20 million, including $305,000 in community block grant funds designated for Operation Brightside.

"Greg Hayes has served our City for 20 years now and brings to the job more than a decade of experience in leading one of the City's biggest divisions," Mayor Francis Slay said. "From middle-of-the-night call outs for trees down after a storm, to maintaining nearly 120,000 trees in our parks and neighborhoods, Greg is a true professional with a focus on providing excellent customer service."

Hayes, 49, became the Commissioner of Forestry in 2001. Before that, he served as the Executive Assistant in Forestry from 1999-2001, and worked as a Personnel Analyst in the Department of Personnel from 1994-1999. He also has served as President of Forest ReLeaf of Missouri for the last three years.

"The City is fortunate to continue to have strong leadership in the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department," Mayor Slay said. 

Gary Bess served as Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry for 18 years. He developed and implemented millions of dollars in capital improvement plans for the City's parks.

"Gary has dedicated more than 40 years of service to our City and has done a tremendous job improving our parks and recreation centers, and developing and implementing citywide programs for tree care and planting, vacant lot maintenance, composting, and park snow removal. His list of accomplishments and accolades is long, well-deserved, and appreciated. I think I will miss his color-coordinated suits as much as his work."

  • Department:
    Office of the Mayor
    Department of Parks
    Recreation
    and Forestry
  • Topic:

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