Another Thursday, the last one of the month. A shy, older fellow is at the corner of the table sitting away from the snacks and waiting for the games to start. A young student and a friend playing a hearty game of chess also wait for others to sit in during the informal game night.
Chip Rogalinski, the Shelby Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA) President, whose hand I shook downstairs, plops down next to me. Some local church members make their way to the TV room to play a very loud card game of War.
“How did you hear about this?” Chip asks. We start playing a game of Uno and I tell him more about last week’s Shelby Park Hootenanny at SmokeTown USA. “The Shelby Park Association had a table there.”
His eyes were filled with glee and proudly pointed out his house on Oak Street. I told him of the ways people normally play the card game Uno, and I asked him to please be nice to me. I start telling him of my love of Shelby Park, and he says, “I’m not convinced until you move!”
Shelby Park: A beautiful community that a lot people avoid. Known for many other reasons besides safety, it has its ups and downs. Lately the influx of young single folks and families moving to the community despite other, kinder options has got the city buzzing.
Andy Robinette, a Shelby Park Association member passes around a clipboard for us to write in. In it describe one-word snippets of how to describe Shelby Park. Some of them include: “green,” “walk-able,” “cool” others say, “convenient” “compassionate.” and Chip’s word being “urban oasis.”
Indeed, these words have reflected several of the changes that Shelby Park is undergoing. A mural on the Shelby Street St. Vincent’s facility where several community members live beside, and often call their house of worship, will actually be staring at these exact words for generations. This mural of words will soon be flanking an old business at the St.Vincent parking lot, as a sort of ode to the community and its devoted members.
The community has really been more of a joyous partnership with the rest of the city, a contributor, rather than a parasite. In contrast with other neighborhoods where home prices are a bane-Shelby park homes are now more of a bargain and come with an instant community feel. Leandro Lozada, a current resident considers Shelby Park convenient, since several members of his church also live nearby, and his neighbors are very friendly. “I can take walks with them.”
Jill Reeves, a current resident considers Shelby Park home “because they keep it real. The football moms at the park that watch the practices will stop and talk to you. There’s definitely a sense of community and reality in one.”
To benefit the revamp of the community center where the SPNA will be holding monthly meetings, Highlands Tap room will be hosting an All-day fundraiser where SPNA will receive 15% of all profits.
This event will be held on Tuesday Oct. 15; from 11a.m. - 11 p.m. Chip is delighted to see the community center become Wi-Fi accessible and therefore attract more adults and neighbors to the committee meetings. “When are you planning to buy a house?” Chip asks. “I have one already picked out,” I told him. “But there are still people living there!” My word for the mural: “Truth.”