Geist Waterfront Park Phase One Set to Open in April
Writer / Renee Larr
Photographer / Amy Payne
It’s safe to say that after a long winter of cold, gray weather, most Fishers residents are ready for spring and all the outdoor activities it brings. The soft opening of Phase One of Geist Waterfront Park is slated for April, then the beach will open Memorial Day weekend. The 70-acre waterfront property is located at 10811 Olio Road, near 111th Street and the east side of Olio Road.
Phase One includes a sand beach, a giant pirate playground, a sand and water toddler play structure, a kayak, a paddleboard and canoe launch area, trails, three small shelters, one large shelter, restrooms, and a concession stand for guests to purchase cool treats and drinks. Guests can rent non-motorized watercraft or bring their own.
“The beach is really impressive because it includes 800 feet of shoreline,” says Jake Reardon McSoley, director of recreation and wellness. “A lot of work has been put into making the beach a high-quality amenity for the community. We also did quite a bit of work to the water.”
That work includes dredging, draining and damning the cove, bringing in 12,000 tons of fine, fresh sand, using it to build up the beach, and adding six large aerators, which will keep the water fresh year-round.
Geist Waterfront Park is the only public access area to Geist Reservoir. While it’s a beautiful amenity to some Fishers residents, city officials realized the reservoir was not accessible for most residents in the city and surrounding communities.
“This quickly started the discussions of how and where we could make the reservoir an amenity for everyone to utilize and enjoy,” Reardon McSoley says. “In 2018 we were able to purchase the land, and here we are now in 2023, opening Phase One.”
He says Fishers is lucky to have Geist Reservoir on the east side and the White River on the west side of the community. He says Fishers has a large amount of aquatic access with Geist Waterfront Park, making access easier for residents and nonresidents. Admission is free for Fishers residents, and a fee structure for nonresidents will roll out later this spring.
“At some point later this spring there will be a smart pass, where Fishers residents can register and have a digital passport to the park,” Reardon McSoley says. “There will be a major communications campaign when that begins.”
The entryway to the park is considered a significant wow factor when guests arrive. Reardon McSoley says much of the masonry needs for Phase One were sourced directly from the site. He says those involved with the project were pleasantly surprised to find so many large, natural rocks and three freshwater springs in the area.
Beach season begins May 27 and runs through September 4, with the beach open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The cove will be fully staffed with seven to eight American Red Cross-certified lifeguards during open hours. Reardon McSoley says the lifeguards will go through extensive open-water training before opening. The city has hired the first full-time aquatics manager. Paula Hardin joined the team in February and previously served as the senior aquatic director for the Fishers YMCA.
Reardon McSoley says with each passing week, the excitement for the grand opening of Phase One continues to grow. He says the park has many items Fishers residents know and love in terms of amenities like play structures, but the most exciting and unique part of the park is the shoreline itself.
“We’re really excited to build upon the area for generations to come,” he says. “I think there is a perception that Geist Reservoir is only for the people who live on it or those who have a boat. We really want to change that perception and welcome everyone to enjoy and engage in the reservoir.”
There is no specific timeline for the opening of Phase Two and Phase Three, but Reardon McSoley says the project leaders have an anticipated completion date of 2040. Additional amenities will include more extensive trails, reservoir walking areas, a fishing pier, more natural playground areas and additions to the parking lot.
“We have been getting a lot of excitement from community members about Geist Waterfront Park,” Reardon McSoley says. “In fact, last November we held a sneak-peek event. Even though the weather was less than ideal, being 35 degrees with 30-mile-per-hour winds, we still had over 400 residents come out to have fun and explore the park.”
The park is an excellent way for everyone to get out and enjoy nature while taking in the beauty of Geist Reservoir during the upcoming spring and summer, this year and for years to come. For more information, go to playfishers.com/219/geist-waterfront-park.
I don’t think it’s right that fisher’s residents get in free and not Lawrence which also surrounds geist and we were here long before fisher’s was
Fishers residents paid to have it built…..
Maybe we should build a toll plaza at 96th and brookschool road so fisher’s residents have to pay extra to get to 465.
I concur! Its not right if its for the community you are charging neighboring communities.
My husband and I live right off of Olio rd, in Mccordsville. I wish we were able to enjoy the park for a lower than $30.00 entrance fee!
Wonderful! Get people outside and OFF the internet!!! I wish you the best!! It looks beautiful!