Irene Lound Gossin was a music teacher in the Brighton Central School District and an opera singer before becoming a well-known environmental advocate in the mid-1960s. After noticing the dumping of construction debris into the Irondequoit Bay wetlands located north of her home, Gossin and her neighbors created the still-active group known as the Parkview Association.
This group of citizen activists, under Gossin’s leadership, was effective in their request to the County to take this vulnerable area under its possession. This success, and the attention it garnered, led Gossin to run for town supervisor in 1969.
She ran on a strong environmental platform, referring to herself as an “eco-politician.” Gossin was elected as Penfield’s first democratic town supervisor in 1971. She was ultimately elected five times to the position of supervisor, twice to the county legislature and was the first woman ever to run a government in Monroe County.
Just some of the accomplishments achieved under her direction were: the start of an early recycling program located at Panorama Plaza, and the establishment of Thousand Acre Swamp, Shadow Lake Golf Course and Tryon Park. Of historical significance, she helped procure funding to preserve the Daisy Flour Mill and Fort Schuyler, both in Ellison Park, the one-room Dayton Corners Schoolhouse built in West Penfield in 1857, and Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor. Over the span of her political campaigns, Irene Gossin distributed roughly 15,000 conifer tree seedlings to potential voters, many of which were planted, continuing to make Penfield a beautiful and “green” place to live.
Irene Gossin passed away, in the Penfield home she and her husband, Alex, helped design with noted local architect, Don Hershey, in June of 2016, at the age of 97. A nature preserve dedicated to Mrs. Gossin is slated to open off of Five Mile Line Road in Penfield in 2018.