Shelton Heights neighbors turn a space once occupied by mobile home park into a community park

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Posted at 10:42 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 22:42:44-04

INDIANAPOLIS — What was once an eyesore in a community on Indy's west side that attracted crime and drugs, is now a community park.

WRTV has covered this story previously in the Shelton Heights neighborhood, near West Washington Street and Holt Road since 2016.

"Every morning when I get up to go to work, I come out here. It's still like a shock," Debbie Parish said.

Parish's family used to live at Grandma Lloyd's Mobile Home Park on Rockville Avenue. Her family moved to a home directly across the street when she was two years old.

"Grew up here, first boyfriend, first friend, everything on these streets and property," Parish said.

In 2015, Parish said the abandoned mobile home park was an attraction for crime, drugs, trash, and even prostitution. It got to a point where she said her own family did not feel safe.

"We were afraid somebody was going to do a home invasion, so my son knew where to hide. We don't have to live like that anymore," she said.

After rallying together neighbors, starting a crime watch, and reaching out to elected officials the mobile home park was demolished in 2016.

"I went to Indy Gateway of the local CDC and said, 'Hey we've got this plot of land. We really can't figure out what we want to do with it. I think it would make a great community park and they said yeah we think so too,'"Jared Evans, City County Councilor of District 22 said.

The City of Indianapolis gave the land to Indy Gateway, an organization dedicated to community and economic development on the city's west side.

In 2018, they broke ground after being awarded a green space grant from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.

"The driving force behind all of this is community. That community started with Debbie Parish and her leadership in applying for a K.I.B. grant, which gave us the funding and resources to turn this into this beautiful piece of property for the public," Evans said.

Everything in the park from the benches, to the picnic tables,and even a new art installation was either donated or paid for through grants, fundraising and volunteer work.

MKSK, a local landscape, architecture and design firm began working with Indy Gateway and developed a design concept for the park.

"I think it's a really great model for neighborhoods and especially tucked under a community development corporation to look at under utilized parcels like this at Shelton Heights Park. And, how they can be activated in a way that's fairly low cost and high impact to make a big difference in the community," Aaron Kowalski with MKSK, said.

Parish says that every day she walks on the newly paved trails, added just weeks ago, and she reflects on how far Shelton Heights has come.

"It's a very complicated story, but it is a beautiful story. It was so horrible and we take it to the ground and it just rises," Parish said.

The park was dedicated in August and they now have a sign welcoming neighbors to the Shelton Heights Community Park.

"We have peace, we have a neighborhood, we have a community," Parish added.