Local leaders will gather soon to discuss what the future could hold for a long-serving community center in Elkhart. The Community Foundation of Elkhart County and Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce are launching a working group to study uses for the Tolson Community & Youth Center. In early June, the city council in Elkhart voted against funding the center.
The city has operated the Tolson Center for 25 years and a recent audit raised concerns about its financial management. The center will close July 27 following the end of a previously-scheduled summer camp for more than 50 kids. Community Foundation President Pete McCown says "we hope that by convening this group and hearing from the community, we learn what could be the next chapter for the Tolson Center."
In a news release issued by the city following the council’s decision to no longer fund the center, Mayor Tim Neese said summer camp will continue as planned and residents who use the center are encouraged to use the city’s three other centers. "I understand concerns that people may be feeling, but now is not the time to be critical, but rather to work together to find an appropriate solution," he said. "We must work to obtain positive results in the best interest of the City of Elkhart and our youth. As in the past, these are community problems, and only through community solutions will we succeed."
Chamber President Levon Johnson says "Tolson Center has been a contributor in the lives of many and we hope to bring community resources together so it can continue empowering and equipping young people and others." Organizers say brainstorming sessions will begin in the coming weeks.