Tolson Center will soon reopen

NOW: Tolson Center will soon reopen

ELKHART, Ind. -- The beloved Tolson Community Center will soon reopen its doors.

The center was shut down in the summer of 2018 when the Elkhart City Council refused to fund it. 

Elkhart Parks and Recreation Superintendent Randy Norton outlined a Comprehensive Recreation Programming plan for the Department on Monday night. 

A piece of the plan highlights a rejuvinated Tolson Center.

On Monday, the council approved the funding in an 8-1 vote.

The Parks and Recreation Department will soon move its offices to the community center and begin to hire staff to organize the center’s activities.

In the coming months, Norton will meet with community partners to pinpoint opportunities for programming while working with neighbors to determine the needs and demands of the community.

Possible programming at the center includes youth enrichment, financial planning, and language classes.  

Elkhart residents recognize the supporting role the center has played for years in the lives of the city’s youth. Many, like Gary Johnson, are welcoming the center back with open arms.

“It gives a lot of kids the opportunity to be somewhere. Idleness is one of the biggest problems of kids being recruited for other activities. Tolson has been able to displace a lot of kids that would normally be doing other things that would probably put them in the system,” Johnson said.  

Mayor Tim Neese has been a steady supporter of the center.  He believes the revitalized center will be an ideal location to serve not only youth and teens but, adults and seniors. 

Christopher Schmucker is an Elkhart resident. He remembers attending the center as a youth 20 years ago. 

“It brought the community together and gave the kids something to do after school, so they didn’t get involved in drugs and activities. It gave the kids a purpose,” Schmucker explained.  

He’s in favor of programming for all different ages. 

“I think it’s a great idea because older adults can mentor the younger adults and it can be a thing where people can come together and learn from one another,” said Schmucker. 

The Parks and Recreation Department says it will be natural for the center’s transitional plan to be changed and revised.

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