- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The city’s tourism agency wants to develop the banks of the White River to create a beach in downtown Indianapolis.

Visit Indy’s first master tourism plan, launched in 2015 with a goal of attracting 5 million more visitors to Indianapolis by 2025, included the prospect of a beach along the banks of the river, The Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/1Q3swLW ) reported. In the past year and a half, the agency has researched the needs and desires of Indiana residents, business owners, community leaders and elected officials, and it has identified areas to target to reach the visitor goal.

“Our research shows people are attracted to water,” said Chris Gahl, vice president of Visit Indy. “(The White River) is an underutilized attractant in the city. People would gravitate to it.”

The agency has identified three areas of land along the White River’s banks that could be developed in some way, beach or otherwise, to attract more people. Those three areas are the city’s “tech” district, the former GM Stamping Plant and White River State Park.

Visit Indy plans to continue researching and exploring the possibilities to determine whether it’s feasible for visitors to actually swim in the river, Gahl said.

Currently, the river isn’t environmentally fit for swimming or eating fish, but it’s safe for some recreational activities, such as boating and catch-and-release fishing. Water safety will be a determining factor in whether city officials will move forward with the beach proposal.

“Make no mistake, we know that any activation of the White River needs to put cleanliness first,” Gahl said. “Then, past that, will be the fun stuff.”

The beach, which could be completed as early as 2017, might be modeled after a manufactured temporary beach on the Seine River in Paris.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com


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