Written by Audrey Walters
Major construction on Phase 1 of Fishers’ newest park has wrapped up for the year. It isn’t set to open to the public until Spring 2023, but for one evening, the community was allowed to come in and preview the grounds.
Geist Waterfront Park is coming and we are so excited! This 70-acre waterfront property is located in Fishers, east of Olio Road, on the south side of the Geist bridge. Fisher’s Parks and Recreation manages the park, which will provide the only public access to the reservoir. Acquired by Fishers in 2018, Geist Waterfront Park will be built in phases, with the first phase debuting in the spring of 2023 and an anticipated full completion date of 2040.
Entrance Design Features Park’s History
Similar to a state park, the new Geist waterfront park will be gated with a secure entrance that will require a pass or payment to enter for vehicles and pedestrians. There will be a kiosk system at the gate where residents will be able to show a barcode to enter and nonresidents can purchase tickets. The entrance is gorgeous and is made from materials found right there at the park which was previously a rock quarry owned by Irving Materials Inc.
The two walls at the entrance are constructed of limestone and cobblestone. Boulders and rocks from the site were used to build both walls. Associate Project Manager Tom Green said of the structures, “We sourced those all from the site and then found the right shapes and sizes to fit like a puzzle to construct those walls. That saved us a significant portion of money because rocks are not very cheap and it’s a really cool sustainability story about the site.”
Spend Summer Days at the Beach
The park offers plenty of parking – 370 spots to be exact – and even has spots for buses and food vendors. At the entrance, there is a community building with bathrooms. One of the restrooms is equipped with a full (adult) size changing table, a first-of-its-kind at any park. Beyond the community building is a long, paved promenade, with the beach to the left and the playground to the right.
In the first phase of construction, the 100-yard beach was completed.
The sand isn’t Florida quality, but it is finer and softer than the sand found at Saxony Beach in Fishers and is 2 feet deep. For those who have been to Saxony Beach, Geist Waterfront Park’s beach area will be around three times larger than what is found there. Shelling would be easy here as we were able to find some really amazing shells while casually walking the beach. There is currently no wheelchair-accessible path to the water, but it is in the plans to be completed before opening day.
There is a unique beachside playscape, where hours of fun in the sand can take place. Built into the sand is a small pirate ship, 2 sets of tables and chairs, a covered structure for pretend play (sand ice cream shop, anyone?), a digger, and 2 water tables. An outdoor shower feature is close by and will be available to rinse off post-playtime. The beach will have a lifeguard stand and the swimming and boating areas will be separated by buoys.
Picnics and family gatherings are possible in one of the four cabanas. The biggest cabana houses three tables and is directly on the promenade, close to the beach. Three others are further back, each with a picnic table, grill, and trash can. The tables all feature one end that is wheelchair-accessible.
Sail Imaginary Seas on the Pirate Ship Playground
To the north of the walkway is a large area for kids to play. The ground covering will have artificial grass once complete — a big plus. This play area is suitable for all ages and features equipment made of materials that resemble wood; no bright plastic to detract from the natural beauty of the park, nor dark plastic that traps heat. There is a small play structure with a slide for toddlers and 3 natural-looking ride-on animals. In the middle of the play area is a tall rope climbing structure, perfect for elementary or older children.
To the east of the rope climber is a big pirate ship that serves as the main play structure, along with 2 sets of swings. The pirate ship is impressive, with a variety of climbing areas and 2 slides. The stern features a cut out that is perfect for pretend play and includes a hammock. There are a variety of swings — several selfie swings, in which an adult and child interact face to face (aka Mommy and me swings), a selfie swing for 2 children facing each other, regular swings, and a circular rope swing.
Kayaks, Canoes, and Paddleboards
At the end of the promenade is a dock. Visitors will be able to enjoy non-motorized water activities like canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. Storage for paddle craft is available. Stand-up paddle boards and kayaks will be available for rent. While there may be opportunities for kayakers to access the park by water, there will not be access points for motorized boats in order to preserve the tranquility of the park and surrounding wetlands.
Future Plans for Geist Waterfront Park
The park’s first phase of construction, the “Landing”, is the beach area and is almost complete. Dates for the subsequent two phases have not been released at this time. “Creekside” will include boardwalks over wetlands and a nature trail. The “Uplands” will see restored woodlands with picnic shelters and dirt nature trails. The expected completion date is 2040.
Anticipated amenities for the final project include a boardwalk, a cafe with outdoor seating, and a fishing pier. A broad grassy space can host large gatherings. There has been talk of having this lawn be a starting and stopping point for the Geist Half Marathon. A graveled mile-long trail will be wheelchair and stroller friendly.
In the plans, we found that there are to be a total of three playgrounds. Each section will have a playground for children tailored to the theme of that area. One will be nature-themed, one will be beach-themed, and one will have Ninja Warrior-style challenge courses. Geist Waterfront Park will not be a sports facility as current and future resources do not include baseball diamonds, tennis courts, basketball courts, or other active athletic facilities.
Wondering how Geist Waterfront Park will connect with the community? Upcoming plans include a covered bridge coming to the area to connect Geist Waterfront Park to Geist Park.
Free Entry for Fishers Residents
Though free for Fishers residents, out-of-town visitors to Geist Waterfront Park will pay $30 a car or $20 per person if they walk/bike up from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Fees are $20 and $10 respectively during the rest of the year. There is no word yet if summer or year-round passes will be available.
Geist Waterfront Park will be a peaceful place for community members of all ages to enjoy nature. The 2-acre beach, walking trails, and passive recreation will be a perfect recipe for a day of fun in the sun.
For more local options for sand play, see our list of parks with sandboxes or check out nearby beaches.
10811 Olio Road