Neighbors give input on Tolson Center expansion plan

NOW: Neighbors give input on Tolson Center expansion plan

ELKHART, Ind. --- Dozens of people shared their thoughts on a multi-million dollar expansion project proposal of the Tolson Center on Wednesday.

Plans proposed to revamp the Tolson Center by the Center’s Steering Committee ask for a ten million dollar investment, with five million coming from Elkhart taxpayers.

“The Tolson Center is an important community asset for the whole community of Elkhart,” Ray Enfield said, who lives in Elkhart.

Neighbors gave their input to the Elkhart City Council for one of the last times as the city moves forward, deciding on appropriating the five million needed for the project.

“It means a lot, Walt Fields said, who lives in Elkhart. “Especially to the Black community, you know that’s all we ever hear since I’ve been in this town for the last 20-something years. So that’s really all of the activity spot that the kids really got.”

The Tolson Center has been a staple in the community for years and the center has come a long way after having to shut down during the summer of 2018 after 25 years. The closing came due to a lack of funding, but reopened in September.

One man in favor of the project expansion brought a set of trophies he won at the Tolson Center that he said changed his life.

“Every time you walk past, go past it, you feel something because you remember your memories,” Donald Brown said, who grew up in Elkhart.

Today, the Tolson Center is yet again making its mark on local youth.

“Tolson is looking forward,” Kevin Bullard said, At-Large Councilman. “The past is exactly that—the past. We’ve got a bigger, broader vision to where it’s not just a building with four walls.”

With the expansion, the revitalized center is expected to serve adults and seniors.

Councilman Bullard said they want to encompass the whole community, including everything from recreation facilities to adult life-skills.

“It’s going to be one of the largest and best outdoor facilities in Elkhart County,” Bullard said. “And it’s just going to be a whole lot more than just a place for people to gather.”

The council will hold a meeting on Thursday. The public is welcome to attend but will not be able to provide input.

The council said there will be many tough questions asked to determine what is best for the city.

The public will also be allowed to make comments to the council at the March 2 meeting when the council is expected to vote on the proposal.

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