New concepts for Tolson on the table

Elkhart Truth file photo The city reopened the Tolson Center on Sept. 30 but private-sector groups, with help from the public, continue to look at possible renovations and uses of the community center. 

ELKHART — The public is being invited to offer feedback on two potential concepts for possible expansion and renewal of Tolson Center.

The workshop Thursday will show what the building and park could look like if the community center were revamped. 

When Tolson Center closed in summer 2018, a group led by Chamber President Levon Johnson and Community Foundation President Pete McCown formed to discuss Tolson’s future. More than 150 people participated in four community meetings, over 100 people met with advisory group members and 418 Pierre Moran Middle School students completed a survey on what they’d like Tolson to include.

Even as the city made plans to reopen the center in the short-term and recently celebrated its opening, the group has been meeting to discuss a possible long-term plan that would include possible expansion and a public-private partnership.

The advisory group, which expanded following the community meetings, toured the Charles Black Community Center, which is part of the South Bend Venues Parks & Arts system. The Community Foundation of Elkhart County and Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce convened a number of meetings that have included city officials, neighbors and people working to help Elkhart succeed.

“As we have listened to the community, we have gotten even more excited about the potential for a Tolson Center that not only serves the surrounding neighborhood, but the entire community,” Johnson said.

GreenPlay LLC, RRC Associates and Jones Petrie Rafinski have consulted with the group and created several concepts for how Tolson could best serve both the neighborhood and surrounding community. A public-private partnership in the future could help achieve that.

Presenting the ideas to the public to garner more feedback is the next step in the process. Those who attend this workshop will get a closer look at the concepts and be able to offer opinions and suggestions.

“We committed to listen to the community and present a proposal to Elkhart city officials by the end of 2019,” McCown said. “Showing our work so far and hearing more from the community is a key step to help us achieve that.”

The workshop is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Tolson Center, 1320 Benham Ave.

IF YOU GO

What: A community workshop on possible expansion and renewal of Tolson Center

When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Tolson Center, 1320 Benham Ave.

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