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POLL: $4 Million Schlumberger Purchase Discussed For Nov. Ballot

In early September, the Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 to include the question on the November 8 ballot in what First Selectman Rudy Marconi said at the time was a move to “take control of the destiny of our town.”

Scroll down to weigh in on this issue with our townwide poll.

As the town prepares to put to referendum the $4 million purchase of the Schlumberger property in Ridgefield, officials are coming down to the wire in getting the information to the public – and to other town officials.

In early September, the Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 to include the question on the November 8 ballot in what First Selectman Rudy Marconi said at the time was a move to “take control of the destiny of our town.”

If approved, a 30-acre portion of the international oilfield company’s abandoned research center would be purchased by the town of Ridgefield for $2.9 million – with about $1 million in other costs – and the remaining 15 acres would be acquired privately by local developer Steve Zemo.

The question now is whether putting the issue on the November ballot may be premature – dissenting Selectman Andy Bodner supported the eventual purchase of the property but voted in Semptember against locking it in for the ballot due to a number of unanswered questions and the “magnitude of the open items.”

One reason to push the issue along for November, though, is that the election would bring a far greater number of people to vote rather than a special election held sometime during the year.

Marconi has said the open questions will be answered in public forums in October.

“If we don’t have all the answers, we’re not going forward with this, but Schlumberger needs to see an endpoint,” Marconi said. “If the town loses the opportunity to take this, though, it could go to the highest bidder.”

Ridgefield would lose a large tax opportunity if that were to become the case, he said.

But as negotiations for the purchase are still young or ongoing and have taken place mostly in executive session over the last year, further details are minimal as of early October, even for the Board of Finance, said board chair Peter Gomez over the phone Friday afternoon.

Gomez and two members of the Board of Finance – Jill Bornstein and Marty Heiser – voted 3-0 Wednesday against the purchase, citing a lack of information.

“We don’t have sufficient details for us to render a financial decision at this time,” Gomez said Friday. “And we’re not a rubber-stamp authority.”

Gomez said it is now up to the Board of Selectman to reaffirm its vote upon advice of the Board of Finance – he said that the Board of Finance would better serve the issue with more access to the information and a more collaborative effort by all officials.

“This is a large ticket item placed under discretionary spending,” Gomez said, “and that’s the case that needs to be made to the public.”

Louis November 29, 2011 at 05:56 AM
Strangely, Roger said: "Louis I searched high and low and the only reference to 500 was you." I wanted to know if trees exist in Ridgefield, so I looked in my bedroom closet. Searched high and low. No trees. That's how I know trees don't exist in Ridgefield.... Or maybe trees do exist in Ridgefield, and just because something's not in MY field of vision doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Ya think? How about this: http://www.acorn-online.com/joomla15/forums/2-town-issues/13309-schlumberger.html?limit=6&start=120#13770 "Ellen Burns: Eureka's application for BP South (153 acres) would have allowed a density of 508 units - that's where Rudy got the 500. " Seems that others remember it the way I do, that Rudy mentioned the 500 number.
Louis November 29, 2011 at 06:15 AM
Luca, Schlumberger is a bad location? 1) There are thousands of condos in Danbury. Hmmmmmm, buy in Danbury and send your kids to school there, or buy in Ridgefield and send your kids to a top rated school district. Hmmmmmm. If Danbury condos sell, then Ridgefield condos will sell even more. 2) There are already successful condos on Quarry Ridge just before Schlum, and on South Street Bypass just after Schlum. Yet you think Schlum perched up on a secluded hill, just between these other two condo complexes, is a bad location? 3) Berylium is described as being present at the tail end of a drain pipe. A single drain pipe. Yet you want to make out like the entire 25 acres has a problem? Don't you think that is a bit of an exaggeration?
sebastian dangerfield November 29, 2011 at 01:26 PM
Roger Time to give up on this guy? The analogy is obviously unnecessary and not to the point. Then he references a blog post (maybe by him?--that's where he reveals his lack of depth) to a nonsensical analysis (308-508 units on 130 acres somehow translates to the same number on 25-30 acres?). But now bloggings by anonymous sources satisfy louis' research. Louis, I asked for you to copy and paste the 354 +354 --it probably exists, but after reading 80+ 354 and seeing that they are on 4 times the land--and phased in and zoned properly over 13 years, Im thinking if ridgefield ends up with anything like sterling woods it would equate to 100 nicely appointed homes. Which by the way, the town seems to want to achieve anyway? They are not talking about making it into a park. They are talking about selling it to make a sterling woods. So, no louis, i dont fear a private developer would do it--and neither does this plan. Your fears are bizarre...they essentially say "we need to buy it to prevent 80 homes (if sterling woods is your example) so that we can sell to a developer to make sterling woods." Make sense--Nope not to me either. As far as berylium being so limited...how about you indemnify the property? Or answer why they think it will cost 7 figures to clean up? Are you saying rudy doesnt know what he is doing--? I agree--. Just that you want to say he is competent, and then ignore half of what he is saying.
Roger Sherman November 29, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Louis so your source is a quote from EllenBurns regarding Eurekas application on a piece of property almost 4 times the size as Schlumberger? Still I have yet to find anywhere an official from the town said 500 units. Bringing up Ellen Burns should remind us of the same scare tactics ROSA used to bully in the eminent domain action at that property.
sebastian dangerfield November 29, 2011 at 01:37 PM
As far as condos selling in danbury--therefore they will sell here...interesting that you think we have the same demographics..the same transportation profile....the same access to jobs... There are houses in danbury---they too sell. Why would you buy a house in danbury and send your kids to school there, louis? You need to understand the differences in many areas. Why would a developer develop in ridgefield, when he can develop in darien or new canaan and command 50-80% more? Any ideas? Here is my theory---if the town doesnt buy the property, then schlumberger will have to clean it up themselves... while doing the cleaning, they will pay taxes--(200k) and after cleanup they can put the property back on market, and then the debate can restart if we want to buy. I have heard of no solid argument about any timing. The only thing I hear is "when the market picks up---a developer might buy." The sad fact we witnessed the biggest bubble in the history of real estate in the last 6 years--and the property was for sale . So to say it will be bought 'when the market picks up" is sort of tough to swallow. I promise you it will never, in our life time, return to the 2005 market--so people need to grasp reality and recognize that 'when the market picks up' is not a sure thing--and it was already there--without results.

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