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Fishers to charge non-residents $50 parking fee at Geist Waterfront Park

Fishers to charge non-residents a parking fee at Geist Waterfront Park
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Posted at 11:03 PM, May 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-16 14:36:52-04

FISHERS — The Fishers City Council voted 7-2 to charge non-residents $50 to park at Geist Waterfront Park on Monday.

City Councilor Jocelyn Vare is one of the two coucilors that voted against the measure.

"My strong concern is that it sends a message to people outside of Fishers that they are unwelcomed here," said Vare.

Heated debate was sparked by the the Council's decision.

The community's main concern is the $50 parking fee only applies to people who don't live in Fishers.

Residents and some leaders told WRTV’s Amber Grigley this is sending an unwanted message about their city.

“That's a lot of money to pay for two hours," said Morgan Hamm, a Fishers resident.

"It just seems a little excessive for a one-day pass," said Kala Lester, a Fishers resident.

"You can't ask any other friends. You can't ask our families to come unless we can all fit in one car. It just feels restrictive," said Charly Stevens, a Fishers resident.

Some Fishers residents never imagined this would apply to their city and something meant to improve their quality of life.

"I mean, it's a bummer," said Molly Rigdon, a non-resident of Fishers.

Rigdon said her daughter attends school just down the street from Geist Waterfront Park, but they live slightly east of Fishers.

"This is probably her 7th or 8th time coming since the soft opening. It's going to be heartbreaking to be like, nope, this is not going to happen after next week," said Rigdon.

“For just beach access. It's not worth $50. There are other beaches around," said Rigdon.

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"Yes, I was very concerned about it, too," said Vare.

Councilwoman Vare spoke out during Monday night's meeting, looking for reasonable solutions.

"If we are pricing things so that it's inaccessible for certain people, that is not a welcoming community, and that's not who we are," said Vare.

“It's also to preserve that benefit for Fishers residents who, as taxpayers, really footing the bill for this park," said Ashley Elrod, Director, Community & Public Relations for the City of Fishers.

Vare motioned to lower the parking fee for non-residents to $10, but the motion didn't stand a chance.

"Unfortunately, the parking price point is being used as crowd control, and I find that to be unacceptable,” Vare said. “It's a lot more than parking at Disney World actually."

"I don't see anyone paying $50 to come. All the people I talked to are like, no way," said Stevens.

The non-resident parking fees will begin Memorial Day weekend. The council agreed to revisit the price in a year. Fishers residents will still need to register to receive a digital access pass for the park. And if non-residents do want to pay 50 dollars for a parking pass, you will have to do so 48 hours in advance.