City council voted to lease 167 acres of city land to a Texas company for oil and gas drilling.
George Levendis, council president, said that for the lease, the city will get between $830,000 and $850,000 which is expected to be deposited into its checking account within 90 days.
Additionally, the city will get 20 percent of the royalties once the drilling starts.
The 167 acres are scattered throughout the city.
Levendis and council-men Bryan Tedesco and Robert Yankle voted in favor of the lease with councilmen Joseph Mazzocca and Mike Tsikouris opposed.
The council president said the city administration has been talking for several months with different companies interested in leasing land.
The legislation approved by council in a special meeting Monday was presented to council members Wednesday. Initially, Hill Corp. wanted a decision that same day, but members told the company they needed time to review it.
“We had until the end of business [Monday] to give Hill Corp. an answer or the whole deal would be off the table,” Levendis said.
He said the vote was the most difficult decision he’s had to make as council president, a position he’s occupied since December.
“I felt that if I voted ‘no,’ it would have been a missed opportunity that the city might never have gotten again,” Levendis said. “I felt it was the best decision for the city of Campbell, for most of the citizens. I’m sure some people might not be happy about it, but tough decisions have to be made.”
Mazzocca said he voted against the contract because of the rush and also because of concerns about Roosevelt Park, which was among the parcels the company wanted as a drilling possibility. “We just spent $300,000 on Roosevelt Park on drainage and paving,” he said.
The company told the city it would repair any damaged pavement, Mazzocca said.
“The park is thriving again,” he said. “There are people walking in that park every evening.”
After some council members expressed concerns about the park, those parcels were removed from the contract, Mazzocca said.
Both Levendis and Mazzocca said approval of the contract doesn’t necessarily mean the company will drill in the city.
“There are other cities involved in this,” he said. “They didn’t say who.”
The more than $800,000 payment plus royalties is a big boost for a city that’s been in state-declared fiscal emergency for several years.
“It’s a huge amount of money, and we’re looking at long-term royalties,” he said.
The city could use the money for capital improvement projects, to get its police department up to staff or provide matching money for other projects, Levendis said.