Letter: Former committee chairman says vote ‘Yes’ on Schlumberger leases

To the Editor:

As former chairman of the Schlumberger Citizens Committee, I strongly urge a “Yes” vote on Feb. 22 to the proposed leases for the Schlumberger Philip Johnson Building to BassamFellows, a modern design firm, and the nearby auditorium to ACT of CT, a theater group comprised of local residents.

These buildings require investment in excess of $1 million to make them habitable and up to code because of significant structural and mechanical problems. The buildings have not been occupied for approximately 10 years. Mechanicals and electricals need to be updated or replaced, major repairs are needed for the roofs, bathrooms, skylights, and interiors, there is no air conditioning and there has been significant water damage to them.  

The two tenants have agreed to fund these repairs at their expense in exchange for a low initial lease rate. Over time both organizations will pay lease rates appropriate for a private business (BassamFellows) and a non-profit organization (ACT of CT).

Today the town owns two buildings with negative value due to their current condition. Under the proposed leases, they will be turned into valuable properties, owned by Ridgefield. Both uses are low density which is the type preferred by Ridgefield residents. By approving these leases we will save the culturally significant Philip Johnson Building and ACT of CT will add to the town’s reputation as a cultural destination. The town will also obtain significant lease revenues as the leases revert to market level rates. Finally, these uses will bring visitors to Ridgefield, benefiting local businesses.

In total, a big win for Ridgefield!

Dick Larson