The Blog
Blight to Block Party: Rivoli Park Neighborhood

Chris Staab is an Adopt-A-Block Captain for the Rivoli Park Neighborhood. He is an advocate on all levels for his neighborhood whether it’s picking up litter, volunteering for the large community festival the Feast of Lanterns or attending the Near Eastside Congress. Chris is a friend of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful whom we appreciate very much.

Virginia Goldsberry hosted a Block Party for her neighbors in the Rivoli Park Neighborhood on Saturday, March 26. A longtime resident of the near eastside, Virginia recently purchased the empty lot on N. Oakland Avenue from the Renew Indianapolis program.

There used to be a house at this address that belonged to the Taylor Family

The Taylor’s were the original home owners of this particular house and raised a family of three daughters on N. Oakland Avenue. Mrs. Taylor died in this house at an age of 103. The house was left to the youngest daughter, who raised a family of her own.

03262016-03blockpartyrivoliparkneighborhood546northoaklandavenueindianapolisindiana

The house fell victim to vandalism when a red pickup truck with ladders and a crew, stripped the property of the aluminum gutters, downspouts, siding and storm windows. A neighbor questioned the crew about their activities and they said were to returning the next day to replace everything new.  Nobody thought to call the police. Nobody called the homeowner for verification. The contractors never returned. The house had been stripped bare in broad daylight in full view of a neighborhood. The Taylor family house was unlivable. It was abandoned by the family and beaten by the elements. This house became an eyesore and a safety concern.

The neighborhood had recently formed a new organization and safety was a priority. Neighbors testified at the Unsafe Building Hearings about the state of the property and the effects that it has on our neighborhood.   A demolition order was affirmed after three hearings, yet demolition was months to come. Eventually the Taylor house was no more than an empty lot with high grass and weeds.  Virginia, as the adjacent property owner, glad to be rid of the eyesore, waited for a chance to adopt this property and make it useful. In November 2015, Virginia began planning a play area for her granddaughter and vegetable and flower gardens.

100_0410

Upon learning that Keep Indianapolis Beautiful was providing a grant for a block party Virginia insisted that she host this event. Virginia’s attitude has been an amazing transformation since her time of living next door to a stripped shell of a house. Three of the Rivoli Park Adopt-A-Block captains applied for the grant to engage more neighbors in efforts to improve our quality of life and reduce crime in our streets.  The Adopt-A-Block program has had a profound effect in the Rivoli Park Neighborhood, not just for litter removal but for changing the apathy of the neighbors. The example of picking up trash from your own property is infectious. Neighbors that know their neighbors can prevent the act of vandalism that befell the Taylor house.

The idea to invite the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Indianapolis Fire Department was a high priority when we planned our block party. The men and women with IMPD East District normally deal with our neighborhood’s less than best moments. The chance to share a few hours of stories and food together as friends and neighbors, was priceless.

03262016-01ladder27blockpartyrivoliparkneighborhood546northoaklandavenueindianapolisindiana

The Rivoli Park Block Party saw new faces, old friends, young children and the men and women that have sworn to protect and serve. There were hot dogs, nacho chips with salsa, fruits and veggies and cupcakes. The neighborhood kids played in Virginia’s play area, decorated the sidewalk with artwork and climbed onto the fire trucks. Gardens were discussed as well as future tree placements. Conversation was contagious and enlightening as was the smile on Virginia’s face. To know the history of the Taylor family was important. Two generations had a past on this piece of earth, thanks to Virginia and the neighborhood, so will many generations to come. The Taylor matriarch would have enjoyed this block party, to know that her neighbors can come together and share some time, on a beautiful spring day.

100_0446

100_0434

100_0414

Thank you to Keep Indianapolis Beautiful for this beautiful opportunity.