A lot of people take pride in being a Milford citizen, but Joe Garbus' love for the city is thoroughly infectious.
The Russia-born Garbus has been a citizen of Milford since the 1980s. Walking along the boardwalk at Walnut Beach Thursday afternoon, Garbus greeted everyone he saw, asking about their day and checking to see how they were enjoying the beach.
For nearly twenty years, Garbus has been President of the , working on projects from the ground up, including . In 1992, when former Mayor Fred Lisman first got to know Garbus, he affectionately nicknamed him “The Pitbull.” As Garbus explains, Lisman could see that he was determined to make Walnut Beach the best it could be.
Along with Bob Gregory, Director of Economic and Community Development, and landscape architect Stephen Wing, Garbus has worked hard to help acquire funds for the modification of existing dune crossings at the beach. These updates will make the crossings wheelchair accessible, state-of-the-art, and easy for everyone to use.
The funds for the improvements to the beach were first requested eight years ago with the help of former State Senator Win Smith Jr. and former Representative Jim Amann as part of a million dollar grant.
“We had the money in place,” Garbus said, but when a funds shortage befell Connecticut, the money meant for Walnut Beach was given back to the State’s general fund.
Garbus credits former Gov. M. Jodi Rell with getting the project back on track. “The next day,” Garbus explained, "Rell said, ‘They’ve already been approved. Give it back.’” The money was swiftly reallocated for Walnut Beach.
“I’m very proud of the fact we have the federal government, the city, the state, and Walnut Beach all working together. Do you ever hear of that?” Garbus asked with pride.
Plans are in motion for the construction of the dune crossings to begin in early May to be finished by June, just in time for the summer beach season.
Showing no sign of slowing down, Garbus has many other plans for improvements to Walnut Beach. When discussing the twenty years of service he has volunteered to the City of Milford (for which he is commemorated in a plaque at the beach), Garbus shrugs off his great efforts and accomplishments: “If it comes from your heart and your mind,” he says, “then the third part — whatever you want to call that — that comes into place.”