Details Given For Park At Ciba-Geigy

Visitors would be able to look out over the property at observation platforms. (Screenshot by Chris Lundy)

  TOMS RIVER – Improvements will be made to the former Ciba-Geigy site and then its current owners will find a partner to take over its operation, according to a officials at a recent virtual meeting.

  The current owner, BASF, will preserve 1,000 acres of the site, while being allowed to develop or sell the remaining 255 acres, which is zoned industrial.

  Of the 1,000 acres to be preserved, about 375 acres will see ecological restoration projects, such as freshwater wetlands, restoration of riparian areas, flood plain and wetland enhancements, creation of upland grasslands, pollinator habitat, and an environmental education center.

  There will be a 130-acre solar farm generating 27 megawatts. BASF will not be the owner or operator. Of this, .5 will be provided to the community at a discounted rate. A little electricity will stay on site to run facilities, and the rest will be sold into the grid.


  A group of experts working for BASF said that the site will become a destination for birders and other nature-lovers. They discussed how this will be home to rare species such as the northern pine snake.

The site is split into categories that have different needs. (Screenshot by Chris Lundy)

  Much time was given to explain the walkway, bird blinds, and platforms for people to experience nature. The construction will follow the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  The main entrance to the grounds will be off of Oak Ridge Parkway. The environmental education center will be close to that road, too. This building will detail Ciba’s legacy in the area. That building will have flex spaces for community groups to have meetings.

  BASF will be seeking a land trust to act as a third party to operate the park, they said. They will fund maintenance until the third party takes over.

  Viewers were able to send in questions, such as “will the property be safe to visit” and “will there be more runoff in high temperatures” and “will there be homes built.”

  BASF representatives said that the property will be safe to visit, and there will be no additional hard surfaces added without removing others (so that water can sink into the soil). There will be no homes built.

  They said a traffic analysis has not been performed yet.

  There will be another in person meeting scheduled for February 28.

  The earliest any projects could be completed is estimated to be summer 2026. The full complex would be expected complete in 2029.

  Residents commented social media after the meeting that the park amenities are nice, but it doesn’t make up for damage that Ciba caused.

  In an announcement prior to the meeting, BASF said these improvements will cost “tens of millions of dollars” and BASF will also pay the state half a million for their oversight.

  “BASF will always own and maintain an environmental management area at the site that includes the groundwater treatment operation, solar array, landfill and capped areas. In addition, the company will retain ownership of the entire 1,000 acres subject to the conservation easement until such time as both BASF and the State of NJ identify an appropriate third-party (land trust or the like) that would maintain the property per the terms in the conservation easement. In the unlikely event that the third-party fails to comply with the conservation easement, ownership of that parcel would transfer to the State of New Jersey,” the company said.

  Environmentalists and local politicians, however, have been very critical of the plan. They feel that BASF is getting a sweet deal made for financial reasons rather than environmental reasons. They have also said that the plan lacks the understanding of how much damage Ciba did in the decades it was dumping toxins into the ground and river.

A rendering of the education center was shown. (Screenshot by Chris Lundy)

  “By way of background, BASF did not conduct any activities that resulted in, or contributed to, contamination at the Toms River site. All necessary measures have been and continue to be taken under an Environmental Protection Agency-led remediation process to ensure the site is protective of human health and the environment. To date, BASF and its predecessors have spent over $300 million to remediate the site. That remediation effort is ongoing and is not impacted by the (Natural Resource Development) settlement. The purpose of this NRD settlement is to compensate the public for damages to natural resources, in particular, impact to groundwater. BASF continues to extract and remediate groundwater beneath the site and the surrounding area. This groundwater is, on average, 25 feet below the ground surface; its presence creates no safety issues for the visiting public,” the company said.

  Local politicians also took umbrage at the fact that the company had a property tax appeal which caused Toms River to pay them $17 million.

  “As to the property tax appeal, the value of the property was determined by the NJ Supreme Court during a specific time period (2004-2018), based upon the existing restrictions and conditions at the site at that time. With the ongoing measures we are taking, the property is expected to gain significant future value, and in particular, ecological value that will be protected by the restrictions on development required by the NRD Settlement,” the company said.

  The local environmental group Save Barnegat Bay announced a lawsuit to stop this deal, and Toms River government has supported that. They feel that the total damage that Ciba has done was never added up. They feel that the residents haven’t been made whole.

  BASF said that even if the lawsuit is successful, state law shows that the money might not go to Toms River. It could be spent nearby or even elsewhere in the state.