FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — The beach at the Geist Waterfront Park is groomed and ready for kids and families to spend their days playing in the sand and swimming in the cove.
That same beach is also at the center of controversy over the Fishers City Council implementing a $50 fee to park for anyone who doesn’t live in Fishers.
Online, people have commented on WISH-TV’s Facebook post about the fee. With some calling it a form of discrimination. WISHTV.com created a poll asking viewers if they agree or disagree with the Fishers City Council’s decision to create the fee. A vast majority of people said they do not.
Leslie Etienne, director of The Center for Africana Studies at IUPUI, said, “$50 is exuberant, and it’s certainly a deterrent.”
Was she surprised that people think it’s a form of discrimination?
“No, not at all,” said Etienne.
Etienne did not weigh in on whether or not a fee is a form of discrimination, but he explained why people would view it as such, saying it all comes down to history. “There have been covenants and ordinances used to exclude people,” Etienne said.
The president of the Fishers City Council declined I-Team 8’s request for an interview Tuesday, but he told us over the phone the fee is in no way supposed to be a form of discrimination.
On Monday, a city spokesperson explained the measure is something Fishers does in general. “It’s a continuation of our policy that we’ve had at our other parks,” said Ashley Elrod, Fishers director of community and public relations.
Elrod further explained why the City Council passed the measure.
“This is really for safety. We want to make sure there is a limited number of people on the beach so our lifeguards have the appropriate numbers to keep track of. But, it’s also to preserve that benefit for Fishers residents, who, as taxpayers, are really footing the bill for this park,” Elrod said.
Etienne told I-Team 8 that one reason people might be viewing the “swim season” parking parking as discrimination is because of the high sticker shock of $50 to park for one day. Etienne also told I-Team 8 that the conversation would be entirely different if the fee was $10-$15 a day.
For comparison, it costs $45 to $50 a day for the highest tier of parking at Disney World in Florida.
The new parking fee is set to take effect the same day the beach opens on Memorial Day weekend.