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Fishers may lower $50 fee for nonresidents to park at Geist beach

Fishers could lower $50 parking fee at Geist beach

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Nearly a year after Fishers City Council set a $50-a-day fee for nonresidents to park vehicles at the new beach at Geist Waterfront Park, a proposal could be approved Monday to lower that cost.

The Fishers Board of Works on Tuesday signed off on a proposal to drop the fee to $25 a day.

People have criticized the fee as discriminatory, with some noting that $50 was the maximum cost for top-tier daily parking last year at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Shortly after passing the fee in May, Fishers officials denied it was a form of discrimination. A spokesperson for the city government told News 8 in May that the fee was “for safety,” to keep the number of beach visitors limited for lifeguards “to have the appropriate numbers for people to keep track of.”

The spokesperson for Fishers also noted that Fishers taxpayers were footing the bill for the park, and it should be a benefit preserved for city residents. Fishers residents can enter Geist Waterfront Park with the their SmartPass badges. Nonresidents must register and pay online for parking. Motorists without SmartPass badges cannot show up at Geist Waterfront Park and enter the parking lot by paying there.

The park’s website says, “Parking passes for non-residents are only required if the individual or group is driving into the park and occupying a parking space. Pedestrians and bike traffic are welcome and do not need a parking pass. This is the only free option for non-residents at this time.” in May had created a poll asking viewers if they agreed or disagreed with the Fishers City Council’s decision to create the fee; a vast majority, 84% of 1,700 respondents, said they did not agree with the fee.

In May, seven of nine councilors voted in favor of the seasonal parking pass. Council members Jocelyn Vare and Crystal Neumann opposed the measure. While some council members raised concerns about the affordability of the fee for visitors, a majority supported the fee as a means of recouping taxpayers’ investment. The city in 2023 said it’d spent $15 million to develop the park.

The proposal to lower the fee goes before the Fishers City Council at its meeting at 7 p.m. Monday. The proposal also would allow the city’s recreation and wellness director to determine the days and times to charge the fee during beach season, which a city ordinance defines as being from Memorial Day weekend to no later than Nov. 1.

Geist Waterfront Park sits on Geist Reservoir southeast of the Olio Road bridge. The beach opened on Memorial Day weekend in 2023. The park also has a playground, walking trails, and kayak rentals. The parking lot can hold 240 vehicles. The cove can handle upwards of 300 swimmers.

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