New fountain pops up in downtown Milford

People driving by Stonebridge Restaurant in downtown Milford Tuesday did a double take at a brand new fountain sending water 22.5 feet into the air.

Rich Conine, owner of Stonebridge Restaurant on Daniel Street, which sits next to a city pond formed by the Wepawaug River, bought the fountain from The Pond and Lake Connection, based in Brookfield, after seeing two similar fountains the company had installed at the Great River Golf Club in Milford.

Conine’s head bartender, Michael Campanelli, suggested Conine go see the golf club fountains. Conine did, and he loved them.

“Everybody’s looking,” Conine said, shortly after the fountain had been put into action.

Mayor Ben Blake was in the area and texted Conine one word: “Awesome.”

According to Jeff Stahl, president of The Pond and Lake Connection, the five-horsepower fountain aerator floats on the surface of the pond. Not only is it great to look at it, but it’s good for the pond, he said, because it adds oxygen to the water and circulates the water. The wave action discourages mosquitoes, Stahl said.

An LED lighting system will allow the fountain to change colors. In addition to a range of traditional colors, the system includes 18 programmed holiday hues.

The fountain will run from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day, and Stahl said, “You have to come back at night and see it lit up.”

Conine spent about $18,000 for the fountain, and said he hopes someone will take up a collection to install them at the two other ponds downtown.

Rich Conine’s son, Phil, said the fountain will serve as a tribute to Stonebridge chef Thomas Brockert, who died Aug. 4 at the age of 38.

“We decided that it will honor him,” Phil Conine said.

Stonebridge Restaurant has been a downtown fixture since 1989. There are preliminary plans to extend an outdoor deck farther toward the pond, bringing the seating area closer to the new fountain, according to Rich Conine.

“I think this is going to be the start of something really cool,” Conine said.

Attorney Thomas Lynch handled the permitting for the fountain, Conine said. Mayor Blake said the pond is city water, and that the fountain is one of several private/public partnerships that aim to improve downtown.

“I think it’s cool for a variety of reasons,” Blake said, explaining that it highlights the downtown and will help prevent silt from building up in the pond.

“That is the heart of downtown,” Blake said.

Conine plans to bring his father to see the new fountain.

“It would be great to get my dad down here,” Conine said. His father, Tom Conine, 99, started Milford Seafood on Daniel Street years ago, the precursor to Stonebridge Restaurant.