Connect In Elkhart County will launch movement to improve trails in Elkhart County

June 24, 2021

ELKHART COUNTY – The Community Foundation of Elkhart County has engaged a team led by Cincinnati-based urban growth firm YARD & Company to develop Connect In Elkhart County, a mobility master plan for Elkhart County. The project is being led by the Community Foundation’s Placemaking Committee, whose goal is to create open communities in Elkhart County that inspire, attract, engage, and connect people to enrich their living experience.

“Our amazing community has a strong network of trails and pathways,” said Becky Bontreger, Chairwoman of the Placemaking Committee. “We can’t wait to gather more people from across our county to discuss how to better knit those together and extend them into more neighborhoods.”

YARD & Company was hired as the lead consultant due to their extensive background in master planning, track record of implementation and passion for placemaking. They bring, along with the extensive multi-modal planning and engineering skillsets of Toole Design, the ability to move the county forward quickly while simultaneously creating a long-lasting movement around trails, development and growth.

“This is a unique opportunity to better connect the towns and cities of Elkhart County through trail development, storytelling, placemaking and real estate development. We couldn’t be more excited to help the Foundation and its partners collaboratively build a more connected future.” said Joe Nickol, Principal at YARD & Company.

The project is in early stages and is expected to be completed in nine months. It will assess the gaps in the county’s existing trail system, actively engage the community about its future, develop conceptual and specific design recommendations and create strategies for how the trail system can create new development opportunities.

Brittany Short, president of the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail board of directors, said, “We want to see Elkhart County become an example of how communities thrive when they consider active transportation in their infrastructure planning. The idea that we can link downtowns and neighborhoods across the county and work across public/private municipal/rural lines for the good of the community — it’s something special.”

The process isn’t intended to replicate previous planning, but to focus efforts in Elkhart County, particularly as the Community Foundation offers Community Investment Grants around this area of emphasis.

Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman said, “The more trails and pathways we have, the easier it is for people in our community to commute and exercise safely. The impact is both a stronger community and healthier environment. We are excited about the growing participation between all our communities and groups that can help make a community-wide network of trails and pathways a reality in our county. We are stronger together than we are separately. The Community Foundation’s leadership can help us boost these joint efforts.”

There will be multiple opportunities for involvement in the process over the next several months. To stay up to date and to sign up to be involved visit