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$7 Million Schlumberger Purchase Approved By Ridgefield Selectmen

The Board of Selectmen voted in favor Wednesday evening to close on the purchase of the Schlumberger property approved by voters in December.

After a lengthy negotiation process took place to ensure the land was environmentally and commercially suitable to own.

With all the due diligence taken care of and many private "executive" sessions later, the Board of Selectmen held a public vote Wednesday evening to decide whether to go forward with the purchase of the 45-acre property -- with a vote of 3-2, the purchase will take place.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi and Selectwomen Maureen Kozlark and Barbara Manners voted in favor of the motion. Selectmen Andrew Bodner and Di Masters voted against the purchase.

The vote had to take place Wednesday after a two-day extension from the Feb. 7 deadline.

The ultimate environmental analysis of the property came up clean, not including the two contaminated sites known prior to the December referendum -- the Schlumberger company is held responsible to clean the property.

But the timeline for which Schlumberger is held for its remediation was a matter of dispute at the selectmen's table.

The investigation of the site can take as many as two years, after which Schlumberger has as many as three years to complete the cleanup. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has three years then to approve the remediation, adding up to a possible eight years for economic viability for the property.

Bodner had a problem with that timeline -- the idea was to sell the land as soon as possible to bring the property back into the tax base.

"We don't want to wait eight years to recover the money," Bodner said.

Manners felt the immediate recovery of the funds were less imprtant than securing the property from possible development.

"This is an incredible bargain that will not be here 10 years from now," Manners said. "We've been afforded a great opportunity here, and I firmly believe this is something we won't regret."

Masters's denial of the purchase stood with the agreement with Schlumberger to clean up the current contamination and the lack of control the town would encounter along the way -- she said it would be "too open and too vulnerable for us."

"If we choose not to move forward," Marconi said, "the price is going to be huge, and that's a mistake."

"The decision is not black or white," Bodner said. "It's sort of grey."

TAB February 10, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Closing scheduled for week of Feb 20. Schlumberger's Form III filings (environmental status and remediation plans) can be made public upon closing.
Leoj December 05, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Article in NewsTImes today details Town plans for Schlum property ... enough time has passed where they can now be honest about what was mentioned as an aside in the purchase meetings and hope the voters have a very short memory about the $7 million they ponied up. There is no intention ... and never was there any .... to sell of the property and recoup the money. Of the 45 plus acres they are thinking of selling 10 to a developer ... 12 to the ever mysterious and unnamed guy that wants to house house his art collection ... and ... what a surprise ... 5 for location of town buildings, 20 for open space or expanded highway department use, some for a water pumping station and a walking path and who knows what else. We've been "played".
S December 05, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Interesting NOTHING about this is on the Ridgefield Press!?
COSMO P December 05, 2012 at 10:51 PM
COSMO P 5:50 pm on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 Sounds to me like a hi density housing development is in our future. Having the new gas line run within feet of this property should have this deal sealed. Think about it sewer water gas and acres of land. Conclusion high density housing is in our future. Do you think Rudy can see it from Rhode Island?

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