New Tolson Center board named and begins meeting to start planning work

Fifteen people join the board to lead process of rebuilding neighborhood center in Elkhart

August 10, 2020

ELKHART — The new Tolson Center board met for the first time in the closing week of July to begin the process of rebuilding the facility and how it serves the residents in surrounding neighborhoods.

A total of 15 people were named to a board after a nomination process involving the public, Mayor Rod Roberson and both the Community Foundation of Elkhart County and Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce. 

The volunteer board is comprised of Nekeisha Alexis, Norman Anderson, Kenya Barhams, Kevin Bullard, Eric Chandler, Camelia Corona, Charlie Cross, Yolo DeMarco, Jan Farron, Dwight Fish, Cyneatha Millsaps, Rose Rivera, Jason Shenk, Clarence Thomas and Candy Yoder. Mayor Roberson, Pete McCown of the Community Foundation and Levon Johnson of the Chamber will all serve as resource persons, but are not members of the board.

Though public officials, including Elkhart City Councilmen Dwight Fish and Kevin Bullard, are part of the board, the Tolson board will operate independently of the City of Elkhart, which oversaw Tolson for nearly 30 years. In 2018, a process to re-envision Tolson began after it lost its city funding. In March 2020, the Elkhart City Council approved a proposed $11-million project that would rebuild the center and add athletic fields to the campus surrounding the building near the corner of Indiana and Benham avenues in Elkhart. Money will come from the city, Community Foundation, private donations and perhaps other sources. A majority of the needed funding, but not all of it, has been committed.

“We are thrilled to be at this point in the evolution of Tolson Center and excited about how we can now move forward toward a new facility that meets community needs,” said McCown, president of the Community Foundation of Elkhart County. “We have listened to neighbors and community leaders and worked to build consensus as we move forward. We believe this board can help us listen and respond so that Tolson and those it serves will thrive.”

The new board will be part of the 501c3 will oversee the construction, programming and operations of the new Tolson Center. A separate committee will be named to oversee design and construction. The new board will meet regularly as a private governing body. Leadership of the board will be selected in coming meetings.