The Community Foundation of Elkhart County and the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce announced plans yesterday to study the best future use of the Tolson Youth and Community Center.
Tolson is set to close its doors July 27th, after the Elkhart City Council voted to not continue funding it, following allegations of financial mismanagement. The city has not yet announced what it plans to do with the center, which is under management of the Parks Department.
Pete McCown is the president of the Community Foundation. He says the goal for him and chamber president Levon Johnson, is to look for ways Tolson can better benefit Elkhart, primarily kids in the Center’s surrounding neighborhoods.
“Our two organizations have an interest in the health and vitality of the city of Elkhart and we can act a-politically,” McCowan said.
He said the mission has moved beyond saving Tolson for the immediate future and set a plan in place to ensure its survival.
The center, which has been managed by the city for about 25 years, houses a variety of programs from different community groups, including Elkhart Community Schools and the Council on Aging. McCown says in the next few weeks, he and Johnson will focus on putting together a steering committee to help drive the conversation on future plans for Tolson. He says those selected for the committee will be representative of the groups that use Tolson.
McCown says he wants the process to be as transparent as possible and resident input is vital for the success of the Tolson Center.