Live Note: The Fishers Parks Department – The Parks (Fishers Government Academy)

The City of Fishers does a Government Academy that occurs over a number of months where community members get exposed to a variety of different areas within the City. It is required that you register for this program and provide a commitment to attend the meetings. The intent is to provide people from the community a chance to see some of the innerworkings of the City.

At this time, I’ve attended three of the sessions. The first was an overview of the City by the Mayor, the second focused on the police department, and the third, which I just recently attended, was from the Parks and Recreation department. This post is my live notes from the Parks meeting.

Fishers Parks

Fishers Parks is overseen by Marissa Deckert who is the director. Her staff includes thirteen fulltime employees and ten parttime employees. The Parks department also uses over one hundred seasonal employees, with many of them being used on summer programs. Marissa presented for the Government academy with the aid of Jordan Brouillard, the Parks assistant director.

Fishers population is roughly 105,000 now. This vibrant community is served with 25 city park properties (and a couple of county properties on top of that). There is over 700 acres of land used for parks, and that includes over 100 miles of trails. Within our parks there are three community buildings, a nature preserve, a makerspace, an urban farm, and an outdoor amphitheater.

While the Parks department didn’t list the 25 individual parks at the government academy meeting, they did talk about the newer parks in town.

The highest point in Hamilton County is the sledding hill at Flat Fork Creek Park. The hill was built with the dirt from housing construction basements in the area.

Geist Waterfront Park

Of course, the park that has likely gotten the most attention this past year is Geist Waterfront Park, which opened this past May. This is the 70 acre park on Geist Reservoir that was developed to provide community access to Geist. Granted, there was the county park (Geist Park) that is on the north end of Geist off Fall Creak, but the new Geist Waterfront Park includes a beech and will have future amenities such as access to wetlands through a boardwalk, a fishing pier, community building, lifeguard building, and a paved trail. You can also launch kayaks and canoes from here. Note that there is a lot of overlap between Geist Waterfront Park and Geist Park, but the location of Geist Waterfront Park seems to be better access to the Reservoir. Additionally, as mentioned, it has a beach. The ship themed playground items are also a nice element.

In the discussion on Geist Waterfront Park, it was mentioned that the city had to dig down around 40 feet to clear out the cove for the beach. In doing so, they found three natural springs. After digging it out, they built the area back up to create the beech and sand. They also added equipment to help agitate the water to keep it more usable.

Nickel Plate Trail

Then there is the Nickel Plate Trail, which has previously gotten the most attention around town. The NPT is Fishers first linear park – first, but not only. It is 4.4 miles from 96th Street to 146th Street. If you travel down it, you will see the various marker signs that let you know how far you’ve gone.

The final stretch of asphalt between 96th and 146th Street has been completed. The next item expected to be built will be a pedestrian bridge over 96th Street. It was noted that this bridge should be covered with a Next Level Trails Grant. When asked, they indicated that the bridge should be similar to what was presented in the Master 2040 Plan.

It was also clarified that Cities are responsible for tings on their south side. This means that Fishers is responsible for the crossing at 96th Street and that Noblesville will be responsible for the crossing at 146th Street. Currently Noblesville is doing asphalt for their part of the trail. While Marissa indicated that she doesn’t know the timeline for a 146th Street Crossing, I know that it has come up in a recent Noblesville meeting, so it is on the radar.

The city also plans to add trailheads along the trails at a number of locations. They are currently working with partners like the YMCA (126th Street), Delaware Township (131st Street), and Holy Family Church. Additionally, once the bridge is created at 96th Street, the trail should go South to the Fairgrounds where it will connect to the Monon Trail. Going North into Noblesville, the trail should connect to the AMidland Trace Trail.

Fishers AgriPark

One of the more unique parks in Fishers is the AgriPark on the east side off Florida Road and 114th Street. This park is a 33 acre urban farm that opened in 2020. The Agripark has free “u-pick” opportunities during its open hours where community members can access and pick produce and flowers grown on six acres. It was noted that over 50,000 seeds have been planted in 2023 at this park.

The park also has a composting program that started in 2022 and will be adding a aquaponics system thanks to a Duke energy grant that was received this year. This is also the only city park where you can visit cows, pigs, a horse, sheep, chickens, a goat, and rabbits!

Nickel Plate Amphitheater

While you might not consider it a park at first glance, the Nickel Plate Amphitheater is also a city park. This park’s unique feature is clearly the amphitheater that was built in 2014 and then renovated in 2018. The venue is located at the center of the main city government buildings. The open grassy area and amphitheater feature free community concerts as well as ticketed concerts. There are currently more than 50 events held annually at the park. While not mentioned in the government academy meeting, this park also has restrooms and on the other side of those restrooms a splash pad area that little kids like to frequent.

Additionally, the main Fishers Farmers Market is held at this location on Saturday mornings from 8:00am to 12:00pm from May through September. The farmers market has a variety of local entertainment that is performed each week. There are also weekly fitness and mindful programs.

As a bit of trivia, the main Farmers Market has 4,000 wee4kl attendees that visit over 75 vendors. Vendors are mostly restricted to local food and farm related items — not crafts or resell items.

Additionally, the market has adjusted their Biz Kids program so that instead of being just one weekend a year, they now allow 10 kid entrepreneurs to have space each week. It was noted that they have around 100 kids that applied to have space, so each week they mix up with the 10 kids that get to rent the space. This restriction of food and Farm items is not placed on kids; however, there are restrictions. It must be a kid business, and the kid must be the one running the booth. Parents can be asked to step back if they are overly involved in the booth. These booths are worth visiting to see what the kids have done and to help support and encourage the kids to continue the entrepreneurial spirit!

It is worth mentioning that the city has also taken over the Saxon District Farmers Market that happens on Wednesday evenings from 4:30pm to 7:30pm from June to August. This is in the Saxony area on the east side. This is currently a much, much smaller market.

Geist Greenway

The Nickel Plate Trail isn’t the only linear trail in Fishers. The Geist Greenway will be (it is still being finished) a five mile pedestrian path going from 131st Street to 96th street on the East side. This is still under construction. For example, the Bridge over Thorpe Creek should be done soon and the trail from Fall Creek to Geist Ridge drive is still being worked on. When completed, the 14-foot-wide path will be two lanes with another 2 feet of space for shoulders (so 18 feet wide in total).

Fishers White River Park

The last actual park that the Parks department talked about was the Fishers White River Park Project. This is a 98-acre park that does not yet exist but is planned for 96th Street at White River. Plans and pictures have been posted for this park, but it is still being reviewed. The park will include walking trials, river access, a canoe launch, and a lot more. It will connect to Heritage Park at 106th and Eller Road, where a pedestrian bridge will be built going over the river and connecting to Hazel Dell Park in Carmel.

A number of questions were asked about this park and the trail system along the White River. It was commented that it would be nice to be able to connect all the way up to 116th Street. It was also asked if there would be canoe launches at locations such as 146th Street. These are things that are being considered, but there are no details.

Other Stuff

The Parks department also talked briefly about Spark! Fishers, the Community Center, The Geist Half Marathon, the Maker Playground, and the Arts & Municipal Complex. My notes regarding these will be in a separate post.

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