Construction has been under way at Geist Waterfront Park for several months, but Fishers Parks Director Sarah Sandquist said all the “fun stuff” will begin in the next 12 months. Upcoming projects include the construction of trails, playgrounds and a beach.
Geist Waterfront Park encompasses 70 acres near Olio Road and 111th Street and will provide the only public access to Geist Reservoir in Fishers.
Phase 1A, which finalized most of the groundwork, was recently completed.
“We did a ton of earth work, moving dirt around to prep the site for all of the amenities to come in Phase 1B,” Sandquist said. “We installed almost all underground utilities. We put in fence posts for exterior fencing. The main features of Phase 1A were the two walls at the entrance point. The construction of the limestone wall (at the entrance) has Geist Waterfront Park lettering and logos on it that’ll be backlit to give it that state park-feel when the park is completed. Then on the other side, there’s a cobblestone wall.”
Both walls were built using boulders and rocks from the site, with the exception of the limestone veneer on the Geist Waterfront Park wall.
“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.”
Browning Day is the project’s architect, and Associate Project Manager Tom Green said it’s important for the company to implement existing materials into a project’s design.
“As landscape architects, we begin each new project by walking the site, taking inventory and looking for design opportunities. With the site being an old IMI (Irving Materials Inc.) plant, which was used to store aggregate and concrete materials, at first glance there wasn’t much that could easily be reused in the design of a park,” Green said. “But if there’s one thing aggregate plants are in no shortage of, it’s rocks. We discovered several large granite boulders and hundreds of rounded river stones scattered through the site. Through careful design and construction, we were able to reuse and prominently display these stones in the entry walls and columns. Reusing material like this not only saves the owner costs and is good for the environment, but it’s a subtle way to continue the story of the land and carry a piece of its history forward.”
The $25 million park is expected to open in February 2023.
“Phase 1B is all the fun stuff,” Sandquist said. “We are draining the cove and will start filling it in for the beach and swimming area. We will put the restroom building out there and paving for some of the trails, landscaping and lighting 9, (which are) the finishing touches.”
Phase 1B also will include trail construction, an event lawn and playground construction. Phase 1B construction began Oct. 1. There will be two more phases following Phase 1.
When the park opens, visitors will be able to enjoy nonmotorized water activities like canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Indy Surviveoars, a dragon boat racing team that consists of breast cancer survivors, might relocate to the park. Trails will be open throughout the property, as well as wetlands.
“In future phases, we want to provide access to those through boardwalks,” Sandquist said.
Fishing also will be available, as will a large-events lawn for multi-sport events or green space. There also will be three playgrounds. One will be nature themed, one will be beach themed and one will be Ninja Warrior themed.
Park admission will be free for Fishers residents. A fee will be charged for nonresidents. Sandquist said the fee hasn’t been determined but will be similar to Saxony Beach, 13358 Pennington Rd., which charges $5 per person.
“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,” Sandquist said. “We will have a campaign later next year to get that (barcode) in the hands of Fishers residents.”
For more, visit playfishers.com/219/Geist-Waterfront-Park.
Services at the park
Fishers Parks Director Sarah Sandquist said the city plans to issue a request for proposals next year to find a vendor to rent canoes and kayaks and other nonmotorized equipment at the park. The vendor also will provide lifeguard services.
“Right now, (Geist Reservoir access) is really limited to either those living on the water or accessing it through the marina,” Sandquist said. “We feel like Geist Reservoir is such a great amenity for the residents and nonresidents, we wanted to provide an opportunity for public access.”