Woman fights to transform former trailer park on Indianapolis' west side into public park

INDIANAPOLIS -- Neighbors and community leaders on Indianapolis' west side are teaming up to transform a longtime eyesore into a park.

Debbie Parish was raised in Shelton Heights, a neighborhood near West Washington Street and Holt Road, and is now raising her son there.

For years, she struggled with crime at a nearby trailer park.

“It just went to squatters, prostitutes, drugs, you name it, it was there,” said Parish. 

Parrish called the police after a prostitute tried to attack her son.

“I said you’ve got to do something, and the officer looked at me and said ‘no, you’ve got to do something’,” said Parish.

Parish started a crime watch and worked with her neighbors and community leaders to get the trailer park torn down in September 2016.

Now, they’re turning the field of dreams into a reality.

“My dream is coming true,” said Parish. “We’re going to have a park with natural wood playground equipment, we’re going to have benches, and a walking trail.”

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful selected the Shelton Heights land as one of five green spaces they’ll transform in 2018 with funding and volunteers.

The nonprofit, Indy Gateway, helped make it happen and their executive director hopes Parish’s story will inspire others to take action in their neighborhood.

"We think it's fabulous and we're looking for projects like this is all the neighborhoods on the west side," said Lisa Bentley, executive director of Indy Gateway. “This is a huge deal for this neighborhood. This neighborhood has no sidewalks, it has no green space for children and it’s along  a large corridor.”

City County Councillor Jared Evans said this is proof there’s power in numbers.

"I think the moral of the story is be active, be involved and be a leader," said Evans. “I think residents should get together with the neighbors, contact elected officials, start expressing their concerns.”

Parish said hiding in her house was never an option.

"If you get groups of people, you will get past the bad stuff,” said Parish. “You just have to stand up for your neighborhood."

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful is currently designing the park and the plan is to break ground in the spring of 2018, and open it later in 2018.

Even though they are getting help from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, neighbors still need funding.

They’re holding a fundraiser for the Shelton Heights Park Fund at Fazoli’s, 5202 W. Washington Street, on November 27 and 28.

Click here to apply for a greenspace grant for your neighborhood.

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