The Fishers City Council approved a $16 million bond for Geist Park at its July council meeting, 8-1, with council member Jocelyn Vare voting against the project.
City controller Lisa Bradford said the agenda item approved a lease between the Fishers Redevelopment Authority and the Fishers Redevelopment Commission with respect to Geist Park.
“Aa few years ago, we purchased the last developable land in the Geist area with the intent to build a park, and so that is what this bond will go for,” Bradford said.
Work will begin immediately on the park, and the bond will remain tax-neutral for citizens as other debt rolls off.
“The nature of this project is unique in that there’s so much permitting that needs to be done, and it will take an extended period of time,” Mayor Scott Fadness said. “The design and permitting component of this project could take up to 12 months to accomplish. The procurement model allowed us to bring on the design and engineering team early on in the project so we can work collectively together to bring down costs, find synergies in the design through the permitting process and ultimately able to use that procurement model to delay payment until such time other debt rolling off the city’s schedule to allow us not to have any tax implication to our residents.”
Fadness said the bond was for Phase 1 of the park, and the park was purchased with a 50-year vision. He said it could take as long as 10 to 15 years before Phase 2 begins.
Vare expressed concerns about the timing of the project as other finances within Fishers are uncertain, such as the Ind. 37 project estimated to cost more than $40 million budget.
“I’m interested in understanding what could happen if we table this tonight and just wait. Ind. 37, in a few months, will be able to be bid out and we at least have that piece understood,” Vare said.
Fadness said the over-budget estimate for Ind. 37 was the worst-case scenario.
“We believe that number will come down but are planning for the worst,” he said. The last bid (for Ind. 37) will occur sometime next spring or early summer for 141st Street, so for you to have final numbers, it would require a 12-month delay in this project. We’ve made a significant investment in the park already, and we would like to see those wheels start turning sooner rather than later.”
Fadness said the taxes pledged to pay for the Geist Park bond and Ind. 37 are property taxes, which is the most stable tax revenue.
“Those don’t fluctuate like income taxes,” he said. “I certainly understand the concern, but we think we’ve put together an adequate plan to mitigate risk and foresee any economic downturns.”
For more, visit fishers.in.us.