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Community meetings to discuss future of Tolson Center start Thursday

ELKHART, Ind. — People will get the chance to talk about the future of the Tolson Center Thursday night.

Almost 100 people from the community voiced their opinion about if the Tolson Center should be reopened.

The Tolson Center closed in June after the Elkhart City Council voted not to fund it through the rest of the year.

It’s the first of four meetings.

Organizers say nothing will be decided at these meetings. It’s a chance for the community to offer their input on the future of the center and its programs.

The decision to shut down upset people throughout the city. So, shortly after the closure, the Community Foundation of Elkhart County and the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce formed a committee. The group listened to 100 individuals and organizations about the aspiration for the Tolson Center and needs within the community.

So far, they have found the community is most concerned about programs for children and teens, and the elderly.

Pete McCown and Levon Johnson, two committee members, say tonight’s meeting is a continuation of those conversations.

“I don’t know what we’re anticipating,” said McCown. “What these four community conversations are intended to do is either validate or add to some of the themes we have been hearing at this point and really give the community as a whole the opportunity to mend their voice.”

Organizers say these meetings could lead to a solution, but it’s more important to listen at this point.

“There may be a planning process that follows but that planning process needs to be informed by the community’s opinion as it relates to the future of the Tolson Center and really what are the broader needs of this part of our city and the constituents who live in it,” said McCown.  

Thursday’s meeting is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Pierre Moran Middle School, 200 W. Lusher Ave., Elkhart. The Sept.13 conversation will take place there too at the same time.

The events on Sept. 11 and 18 are scheduled for IUSB Elkhart Center, 125 E. Franklin St. The time for those events is 6:30 to 8 or 8:30 p.m.

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