Tolson Center to reopen Wednesday after being closed for more than a year

NOW: Tolson Center to reopen Wednesday after being closed for more than a year

ELKHART, Ind. -- City leaders and community members in Elkhart will come together Wednesday morning to celebrate the re-opening of the Tolson Center. 

“It’s bigger and better than what we thought,” said Elkhart City 3rd District Councilman David Henke ahead of the ribbon cutting ceremony. 

In 2018 the Elkhart City Council voted to close the center after an audit revealed money mismanagement and safety issues. 

After public outcry over the closure, the council approved a plan this past spring that would re-open the center. 

Henke introduced the legislation. 

“The evolution of what’s going to happen here is just beginning with the grand opening,” said Henke. 

The city spent $80,000 rennovating the center this summer. Henke says that money paid for new floors, a security system, landscaping, office spaces, activity rooms, and more. 

“We will expand your horizons,” said Henke. “Here’s a whole new group of social people that you get to involve yourself with. It is going to be the meeting place. It is going to be the place for this community; for this neighborhood it becomes an even more important asset.” 

The new Tolson Center also houses the city’s parks and recreation department. 

This fall the center will offer more than a dozen low--cost, age-appropriate programs. For example, kids can play basketball on Saturdays or adults can take a resume and financial course on Tuesdays. 

“Through the unpopular decisions, is going to be something that not only has greater opens, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., has openings, but it also has 15 programs, so even beyond the old programming, new, different, all-age brackets,” said Henke. “The community wins because we now have re-birthed the Tolson Center as it were and expanded the possibilities for all who want to use it.” 

Henke says this new center saves taxpayers money. 

Accordding to Henke, it cost roughly $366,000 per year to operate the old Tolson Center. He adds the parks and recreation department was looking to move into a new building that would cost between $300,000-600,000. 

By combining the two organizations, Henke says it will cost around $225,000 each year to run the joint center.

“We need the community to come in and help us take it to the next level,” said Henk. “The building is ready, but it’s the shell of what it is to become. The story is on the inside.” 

The public is invited to tour the new Tolson Center during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday that starts at 10:30 a.m. 

There will also be a community picnic Friday Sept. 27 from 5-7 p.m. at the Tolson Center.

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