The '70s and '80s

Expo 72 is held in Milford High School gymnasium. A tourist information center opened at Howard Johnson's. The Milford Chamber participated in the creation of the city Plan of Development.

1973 - Bob Cooke was re-elected to a second term. The Chamber supported the repeal of Blue Laws. A survey of business to determine present and future needs relative to employment was completed. Governor Meskill addressed the chamber with over 250 members and their wives present. Richard Pilvelait, Executive Director died at home in June. A Chamber search brings Robert Gregory to the chamber as executive director in September. In December, the national energy crisis turned out the holiday lights on the Green. Natural wreaths were put up on street poles for decorations.

1974 - Joseph Einhorn was elected president. The Chamber advocated the city purchase of Charles Island from UI and then extending a breakwater along the sandbar to create a giant basin for recreational uses. At the same time the Jai Alai Fronton was coming to town and MCC strongly expressed their support. The Chamber calls for return of Simon Lake's submarine, "Baby Explorer" from the Bridgeport Museum of Arts and Science. Unfortunately it was sent to Groton naval museum instead. Ironically, it was returned to the city in the 90s. Milford Progress, Inc. (MPI) was formed by the chamber to foster economic development with Diana Nytko as the first president. Seed money of $100 each, was donated by the original ten directors to form the corporation. The former Milford Center Development Corporation was disbanded. The Oyster Festival was created with Diana Nytko as first chairman. She continued this position for the next two years. A regional solution to garbage removal was favored by chamber. A new Devon Center committee formed with a strong chamber involvement.

1975 - Joseph Einhorn served his second term. Devon and downtown were the subject of parking and traffic concerns. A sub-committee was formed for Devon to advise on the use of federal funds. Milford Progress created a new plan for downtown. MPI received Community Development Block Grant funds for a storefront loan program. The "Student Participation in Government" program was created where high school students learned about local government. Chamber backed the new police station. The first membership consultant, Gene Kernan, was hired. "Milford Day at Shea", attended by 1200, was coordinated by the chamber. The first Oyster Festival was organized with three objectives; to build a feeling of community spirit and togetherness, to provide a tourist attraction and to raise funds for the various participating organizations. The oyster was picked as the central character because of its past and present ties to Milford. Music, arts and crafts, canoe race, oyster contests, oyster boat visit and many other events made for a great event. 5,000 expected, 20,000 showed up. Free concerts on the Green were started by the Downtown Merchants Association, (DMA) which operated under the chamber's direction. Time magazine wrote an article on crime in Milford, which was criticized by Police Chief Bull and the chamber. A Halloween parade and party was supported by DMA. A new holiday program put 40,000 mini-lights on trees on the green for a "Festival of Lights".

1976 - Robert Joy, attorney and Probate Judge, became chairman of the board. The Chamber fought against "the white elephant" building conversion to senior housing. Devon, the downtown, and harbor were all in focus. A pitch was made for the former library as chamber headquarters. MPI used the SBA 502 program to finance Precision Metal Fabricating new building.

1977 - Bob Joy served another year as chairman. The Post Office move from downtown was opposed. The fight continued against senior housing in the "white elephant" building (where the current downtown parking lot is located). Ross Baxter (former chamber exec) was ordained as an Episcopal priest. The Chamber wins approval to have its office in the Taylor Library. The Milford Fine Arts Council will also have space. Downtown Merchants file appeal of P&Z approval of "white elephant" apartments. Downtown task force formed. Alarcon Tire received SBA loan for new facility through MPI. Milford Jai Alai opens in May. New signs designating parking put up downtown. MPI developed a storefront loan program for Devon using CDBG funds. The Oyster Festival continues to grow. The 57-ft 1926 schooner Trade Wind visited, an oyster-shucking contest, rugby game and catboat race were added to the one-day event. Chamber urges establishment of a transit district. MPI uses SBA 502 program to finance Sealand Environmental.

1978 - William Malcolm, elected chairman. Long Range Planning that was started in 77 finished work in 78. Chamber organizes opposition to the move of the Post Office from downtown. MPI hires director John McCarthy using CETA funds. MPI pushes for downtown parking in cooperation with the city. $27,000 raised to complement $80,000 in Block Grant funds. White elephant building torn down and 100 space parking lot created. MPI completed an SBA 502 loan to Alarcon Tire to expand in Devon.

1979 - Cap Zito, Milford Citizen Newspaper, elected chairman. Milford Transit District formed as a result of action by MPI. MDMPA holds holiday parade. Funding awarded for courthouse downtown. Spirit of Milford coordinates all holiday activities. Network of Executive Women formed through the efforts of Phyllis Holt and Diana Nytko.

1980 - Edmund Meinket, chamber president, dies in August. Attorney Robert Kapusta steps in. Naugatuck Junction Days held in Devon. Downtown Merchants opposes plan to move Superior Court. World's largest singing Christmas tree erected on the Green. A quality of life brochure is produced with a local company. Endorsement was made of President Reagan's economic program. The Chamber reiterated its opposition to a state income tax and supported the repeal of the Anti-Litter tax. Membership stood at 476 at years end.

1981...Attorney Robert Kapusta, Kapusta & Otzel Law Firm, elected president. A third congressional district branch office is established with the held of Congressman Larry De Nardis in the Chamber Headquarters. Chamber supported the concept of a restaurant in the former railroad station. MPI forms a downtown task force. Downtown Merchants and Professional Association sponsor a Croquet Tournament on the green. MPI hosts an SBA seminar and offers storefront loans. A total of 56 loans were completed during the program that ran until the 90s. A Milford Business Expo '81 was held at Milford Jai Alai. The Milford Chamber of Commerce Trust Fund was created. 1982 - John Peterson, Beazley Realty, was elected president. The Chamber opposed disruption to single-family zoning, opposed the unincorporated business tax and had a successful membership drive. The Chamber advanced the idea of a city manager form of government to replace present system. MPI received SBA certification as a 503-development company, one of the few certifications given an organization serving an individual city. Liberty Belle Business After Hours cruise most popular. "Milford Makes It!" was the membership drive theme.

1983 - Winthrop Smith, Sr., Smith Funeral Home, elected president. MPI completes SBA 503 loan to Falcon Electronics, Inc. Chamber designated as an official U.S. Small Business Administration Resource Center. Chamber recommends that the city hire an energy consultant and investigate the potential of cogeneration, the conversion of solid waste to energy. Chamber involved with update of city's downtown plan. "Welcome to Milford" package for new residents prepared. 1984 - Daniel Meisenheimer, Spectrum Associates, elected president. Recovery Alliance files FOI complaint against MPI because of their opposition of the organization's desire to occupy the RR station. MPI prevails. Chamber lobbies for courthouse retention. Chamber raises funds to assist in renovation of Taylor building. City kicks in $31,000 for sidewalks, streetlights, and landscaping around the building. Project serves as example for the rest of downtown renewal. Chamber celebrates 30- year anniversary. U.S. Military Academy band performs Christmas Concert as part of the "Spirit of Milford". New logo adopted by chamber as part of image enhancement. Seagull shaped like an "M" shows upward thrust of the organization. Membership stood at 450. Board of Aldermen designated MPI as the official arm of the city to oversee downtown development. Gateway Tourism District formed with West Haven, Trumbull and Stratford. Downtown plan unveiled. Chamber backs plan for a wildlife preserve at Milford Point. Chamber exec attends weeklong Main Street program sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. - See more at: http://www.milfordct.com/chamber-history.html#sthash.u4hAcaMH.dpuf

1984...Daniel Meisenheimer, Spectrum Associates, elected president. Recovery Alliance files FOI complaint against MPI because of their opposition of the organization's desire to occupy the RR station. MPI prevails. Chamber lobbies for courthouse retention. Chamber raises funds to assist in renovation of Taylor building. City kicks in $31,000 for sidewalks, streetlights, and landscaping around the building. Project serves as example for the rest of downtown renewal. Chamber celebrates 30- year anniversary. U.S. Military Academy band performs Christmas Concert as part of the "Spirit of Milford". New logo adopted by chamber as part of image enhancement. Seagull shaped like an "M" shows upward thrust of the organization. Membership stood at 450. Board of Aldermen designated MPI as the official arm of the city to oversee downtown development. Gateway Tourism District formed with West Haven, Trumbull and Stratford. Downtown plan unveiled. Chamber backs plan for a wildlife preserve at Milford Point. Chamber exec attends weeklong Main Street program sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

1985...Sam Bergami, Alinibal, elected president. Chamber holds 30th Anniversary party at Milford Jai Alai. Milford Convention and Visitors Commission supports hockey tournament. Volunteers assist in lighting the green. $15,000 raised for Taylor Building improvements. Partnership formed between schools and business pushed by chamber. A School-Business partnership to improve quality of education formed with Milford Chamber and Milford Rotary. The "Why Milford" promotional pamphlet presented to Mayor Jagoe. MPI named general contractor for downtown sidewalk revitalization. Beautification of downtown along with the outside of the Taylor Library began. Preparations began for the 350th celebration.

1986...Terry Munk, Appaloosa Trading Company, elected president. A full-time membership director, Joy Rice was hired. The chamber formed Youth Job Bank and promoted Mathcounts as part of its continued involvement with youth. MCC was involved with the decisions on the Parsons and Toulson Buildings reuse, and Indian River and Woodmont Road Bridges. Chamber coordinated Milford's participation in the State's parade in New Haven, which included building a float that resembled Captain Kidd's ship. Second phase of the downtown sidewalk project completed. Great American campout held on Gulf Beach coordinated by Chamber and C&V Commission commemorating 125 years of camping.

1987...The first woman to head the chamber, Phyllis Holt, Colonial Bank, was elected president. Debate held over height of the proposed building at 1 New Haven Avenue. Chamber supports, Mayor Jagoe opposes. LMP was the major developer downtown. Milford prepares for 350th celebration. Chamber rallys opposition to a mall in Orange. Chamber and MPI urged demolition of Toulson Building and use of the land for parking. Chamber formed Milford Pride, an anti-litter organization affiliated with KAB. Milford becomes the first city in Connecticut to be certified by Keep America Beautiful. Devon-West Shore Business Association formed by the Chamber. Frank Forte, 1st president. Groundbreaking was held by Subway to house its new World Headquarters on BIC Drive. Today there are over 730 employees occupying three separate buildings.

1988...Harry Jones, Translite, elected president. Chamber urges privatization of refuse pickup and a vehicle replacement program for the City of Milford. Devon has holiday lights and Santa arrived at Walnut Beach, courtesy of the Devon-West Shore Business Association run by the Chamber. U. S. Military Academy Band gave a Christmas concert.

1989...Marjorie Nealon is elected President. Chamber is very involved in the city's 350th celebration. Milford Today, a monthly newspaper, debuts, published by the Chamber and distributed free to 21,000 households. Carrie Jayne heads Devon-West Shore Business Association.

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