A tough decision lay before the Monday afternoon: Take the faster course of action or the safer one.
The board voted unanimously in favor of the safer option of allowing the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) oversee the cleanup of contaminants at the recently purchased Schlumberger property in the middle of town.
Ridgefield voters approved late last year the town's $6 million purchase of the 45-acre campus that once housed but has been empty for about six years.
The choice before the board was to either have the DEEP oversee the project, which could take the maximum amount of time (eight years) to come to completion, or have a licensed environmental professional (LEP) hired by Schlumberger lead the remediation.
Ultimately, the board decided it would be better in the long run to be assured of a thorough cleanup via the DEEP option rather than depend on Schlumberger's hire, which First Selectman Rudy Marconi likened to "leaving the fox in charge of the chicken coop."
"The most prudent path is going with the DEEP," Selectman Andrew Bodner said. "The LEP doesn't work for us."
Bodner was once a more outspoken proponent of flipping the property as soon as possible to return the town's investment -- he decided Tuesday, however, that it would be more beneficial to the town to get it done right the first time.
"It's better to have somebody in charge who doesn't have a dog in the fight," said Selectwoman Di Masters.
Contaminants on the property include the contents of a leaky oil tank, as well as higher-than-normal levels of the element beryllium -- the DEEP considers neither to be a significant threat to human health or the environment, though, and would therefore not assign it a priority.
"I don't have a problem with it taking a little longer," Selectwoman Barbara Manners said. "If you want to flip it as fast as you can, it's not going to happen with the DEEP, but there's no assurance of complete protection if we go with the LEP."