Fishers City Council approves $50 parking fee for nonresidents at Geist Waterfront Park

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Lifeguard stands line the new, 100-yard-long beach at Geist Waterfont Park, which also features an elaborate ship-themed playground. While the 70-acre park opens April 22, the beach won’t open until late May. The park marks the first public access to Geist Reservoir. (IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

The Fishers City Council on Monday night approved a $50 daily parking fee for nonresidents who want to visit Geist Waterfront Park during the summer beach season.

People who do not live in Fishers will pay the parking fee from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Fishers officials will reevaluate the fee after this year.

The city council voted 7-2 to approve the $50 parking fee with Democratic council members Jocelyn Vare and Crystal Neumann voting against the ordinance.

Parking fees for nonresidents will apply to individual vehicles regardless of the number of occupants.

During beach season, the parking lot will be available to Fishers residents who registered for a free Fishers SmartPass and non-residents who pre-purchase a $50 parking pass at least 48 hours in advance.

Parking passes for the 250-space lot will not be sold on-site. Nonresidents who bike or walk to the park will not be charged.

Vare said the $50 fee sends a message to people who live outside Fishers that they are not welcome in the city. She proposed amending the charge to $10 per vehicle for nonresidents, but her motion did not receive a vote.

“I don’t know the last time you spent 50 bucks to park somewhere,” Vare said. “You don’t even pay that much for Disney World, so it feels off and out of proportion.”

Mayor Scott Fadness responded to the idea of lowering the parking fee by saying it would encourage people to not drive together, which would decrease the number of available parking spots at the park. He said the park does not have the capacity to support a larger parking facility with more spots.

“Imagine if it’s $10, so now an individual says, ‘I’ll just drive my car,’ and now you have 20 people that show up with one person in the car,” Fadness said. “You’re denying not only Fishers residents, but probably other people that would want to utilize that park because there isn’t significant parking around. So, now all of a sudden, you could fill up a good portion of the parking lot with just individuals, so now you’re not utilizing the asset to the extent that you could be.”

Several councilors spoke in favor of the $50 charge for nonresidents with some comparing it to the cost of a family visiting Conner Prairie, Topgolf or The Waterpark in Carmel.

“I think $50 is an absolutely reasonable fee and to suggest that we go to $10, I think it is ridiculously low,” Councilor John Weingardt said. “To me, as a taxpayer here in Fishers, I just I can’t live with that. Fifty dollars, I think, is a good place to start.”

The city expects more than 150,000 visitors will come to the park during beach season. Another 100,000 people are anticipated during the cooler months of the year when no parking fee will be in effect.

Visitors to the park at 10811 Olio Road will find a 100-yard-long beach along a cove with a channel connecting the cove to Geist Reservoir, trails, a boat launch, a playground with a pirate ship theme and vendors.

Geist Waterfront Park is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until May 22. Beginning May 27 and running through Labor Day weekend, the park will be open from dusk to dawn with the beach open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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17 thoughts on “Fishers City Council approves $50 parking fee for nonresidents at Geist Waterfront Park

  1. What about Lawrence which borders the lake, or Fortville? I would have thought those residents would be a major component of the visitors to this beach.

    I also wonder if there should be some sort of attendant taking money at the gate. Untold numbers of people will be turned away without a pre purchased pass, never to try again. They will just find somewhere else to go to access water. Such as a pool that is cleaner than the lake, especially in this area which is very shallow.

    Not sure this beach would be a $50 experience for most people.

  2. Imagine if everyone from outside Fishers boycotts their beach and their restaurants. And if outsiders don’t boycott I hope they all show up by the vanload and get their $50 worth! 🙂

  3. It’s 12.50 per person for a family of 4. Carmel’s water park is $16 per person with a three dollar resident discount.not sure what the issue is?

    1. Thats a good analogy. I hope there is enough bike parking and sidewalks to accommodate foot traffic.

      Not having onsite way of buying parking is going to be an issue.

    2. Carmel doesn’t charge for parking…the fee mentioned is an admission fee for a waterpark

  4. Good comments from all above. My take is that Eagle Creek Park is just not charging enough to residents outside of Marion County for access to this public amenity. $6.00 per visit or $60 annual pass for visitors to Eagle Creek versus a $50 per visit to a beach on Geist?? Yes, it seems that Fishers is trying to send a clear message to people who live outside their small community.

  5. If this is a nice amenity as it seems to be, then there should be a charge. It’s simpler to charge by car rather than person, but $50 just sounds like a lot especially if there are one or two people visiting rather than 4 or 6. Do you want to penalize a nice young couple from Lawrence, for example. My concern is with the major’s rationale. If they are concerned with having enough parking, then perhaps you designed the facility incorrectly. Was it a given that the site was limited in parking capacity? And if it’s free for residents, what’s to discourage them from coming in 2 or 3 cars? It seems the right answer is more than $0 for residents and less than $50 for others. It’s hard to say what’s right for the start, but this definitely sends a bad message at a critical time for building a great reputation for a valuable new amenity.