Task Forces and Community Action
The Vibrant Communities Action Agenda was created through a robust community engagement process that identified and prioritized projects, policies and programs for communities within the county. The action recommendations range from specific, “bricks and mortar” projects, to new or enhanced programs. They include new policies to unlock the potential of the community’s assets and deliver more attractions and amenities. The 77 recommendations emerged from the Community Conversation process conducted in 2016. The Vibrant Communities Task Forces are focused on spurring action within three priority topic areas.
The active transportation task force will be designing projects related to the different recreational opportunities in Elkhart County. Primarily, this includes efforts related to the waterways and the multi-use paths.
Informed by community input, we hope to increase the use of the county’s waterways by highlighting the waterways and access points. Elkhart County has beautiful rivers that don’t get as much use as we would like. We hope to address this via both projects and a marketing program.
We also hope to continue the development of the multi-use paths in Elkhart County. We hope to further develop the pathways connecting the different towns in Elkhart County, and ultimately create a more connected community, with opportunities to travel further via biking and walking.
Elkhart County, like much of the country, lacks sufficient housing in a number of cost ranges. Houses between $130,000 and $250,000 are particularly scarce, as are opportunities to ‘age in place’ in walkable communities. This task force seeks to identify and execute some community projects to address the mismatch between housing needs and the housing stock in Elkhart County, including opportunities that focus and new, renovated, and repurposed housing.
The housing task force will seek to coordinate their efforts with other groups concerned with housing in Elkhart County – namely housing projects within the broader umbrella of the regional cities program, and coordinating with the different localities within Elkhart County.
The communications task force hopes to unify the communications and marketing efforts within Elkhart County to highlight community assets and events. We will work on branding at the county level, as well as for individual towns and localities. We hope these efforts will allow areas in Elkhart County to highlight both their unique traits as well as the broader community they contribute to.
A second focus area for the communications group is to allow for more collaboration and communication between cities, organizations, and the public. This will ultimately increase the visibility of events and activities within Elkhart County. Recent trends have shown that communities benefit from thinking at a regional-community level rather than at the level of small communities.
Hundreds attended the Vibrant Communities Kickoff, Community Conversations and/or Summit on the Future in 2016. They submitted thousands of comments about their priorities for parks and green spaces, arts and cultural venues, events and festivals, and community gathering places.
Speakers such as Peter Kageyama (“For the Love of Cities”) and Jamie Bennett and facilitators from Planning NEXT helped us all understand the critical role that quality of place has for community pride, talent attraction and retention, and creating neighborhoods and cities where people love to live.
The result of all this feedback was a 77-item Action Agenda, which was presented in draft form for everyone to review at the Summit on the Future in June 2016.