Insider Louisville recently wrote, “…People with passion can accomplish a great deal, and those Shelby Park leaders have incredible passion.” Much of that success is due to Chip, president of the Shelby Park Neighborhood Assn. What sets Chip apart is his inclusive approach to revitalization – he considers everyone his “neighbors,” no matter how down and out.
Three years ago, Shelby Park was perceived as a small, depressed pocket among some of the best neighborhoods of Louisville. It was marred by crime, trash and vacant or dilapidated properties. Today, however, crime is down, young professionals are moving in and Insider Louisville recently wrote, “…People with passion can accomplish a great deal, and those Shelby Park leaders have incredible passion.”
One of those leaders is Charles “Chip” Rogalinski, a local public defender who was elected president of the Shelby Park Neighborhood Assn. shortly after moving in six years ago.
“I was ready to buy again following a divorce, and I immediately saw the potential of the neighborhood,” he recalls. “The shotgun house I ended up buying is right across from a 17-acre park designed by Frederick Olmsted (who also planned New York City’s Central Park and the Washington, DC, mall), has several historic landmarks and it’s just a mile from downtown Louisville. It was crying out for a little bit of love and attention. So I volunteered for the neighborhood association and it snowballed.”
Chip credits a large part of his success to the course on board governance he took at a NeighborWorks Community Leadership Institute
: “It literally changed my life,” he says. “I had never been on a board, and I couldn’t even manage to get a quorum when I first started. The class gave me a focus and a goal – including recruiting enough strong participants that I can work my way out of a job.”
Among the initiatives that fueled the success of Chip’s group is a partnership with NeighborWorks member New Directions Housing Corp.
to build affordable homes on vacant property, followed by encouragement of existing homeowners to rehab the outside of their houses as well as inside. Through these improvements and others, Chip’s team hopes to reach parity between renters and owners (now a bit lopsided, 64 percent -36 percent in favor of renters).
In addition, to further market the neighborhood, he got the city of Louisville to recognize Shelby Park with one of its signature banners as the onetime home of Victor Mature, a stage, film and TV actor who Chip describes as the “Tom Cruise of his day.” Mature left Shelby Park in 1939 in a borrowed or stolen car for California, and the rest is history.
But what also sets Chip apart is his inclusive approach to revitalization. Bordering the large neighborhood park is a residential and treatment facility for individuals with HIV/AIDS, a shelter for homeless families, a Head Start program for disadvantaged children and a church with a largely African-American congregation.
“The way I see it, they are all my neighbors. I want them to stay, and be contributors to our success,” he says.
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