The Vibrant Communities process was initiated to engage the communities of Elkhart County in a discussion on quality-of-place. Over a six-month program, nearly a thousand participants shared close to 4,000 unique ideas and comments. To reach a final set of community quality-of-place actions the Vibrant Communities Steering Committee developed a six-month process to elicit thoughts and ideas from the public. This included several large and small in-person meetings, online feedback and physical surveys. Please review the Action Agenda below and let the Steering Committee know what you think!


MB1 – Provide internet for everybody.

Large swaths of the rural areas surrounding Middlebury and Bristol have little to no access to high-speed internet. The action will deliver better access to affordable, high speed internet to rural/unincorporated areas.

MB2 – Create an Active Transportation Safety Plan.

Improve the safety of existing community trailways and roadways by providing intersection safety improvements, safe routes to school, increased signage, striping, separating motorized from non-motorized (ie. bicycles, buggies, pedestrians).

MB3 – Establish a slow-moving vehicle safety initiative.

Amish constitute nearly 40% of the region’s population – and are what make the area’s towns so unique. And yet as towns continue to grow, so do the dangers of mixing transportation modes. In re-paving of main roads, consideration should be made for signage (reduce speed and pass at least 3 feet away to the left) and buggy lanes should increase. Town-county-state should work together to ensure road safety between fast and slow moving vehicles. Raise awareness and education of how to safely interact with one another.

MB4 – Install wayfinding signs.

The towns of Middlebury and Bristol should become more welcoming to visitors and potential new residents/businesses. A welcome gateway and an easy way to navigate, for residents and tourists, is an important part of downtown revitalization for towns.

MB5 – Adopt a neighborhood preservation ordinance.

Neighborhood preservation ordinances (NPO) have proven their importance in the 20th century and beyond to protect the property values and safety of communities. An NPO in the towns of Middlebury and Bristol will protect neighborhood assets, while potentially providing resources or pathways for continual improvements.

MB6 – Prepare a strategic marketing plan.

If Middlebury and Bristol want to grow, the towns must each market themselves effectively to potential visitors and residents. This can be done separately, as each town is unique, but also together. Working together toward a common goal will be mutually beneficial.

MB7 – Create a multi-use trail to connect Middlebury and Bristol.

This action aims to ensure our trails, rivers, parks and roads are connected as best as possible. A trail connecting Middlebury and Bristol is of utmost importance along with trailhead parking, bicycle/pedestrian crossing safety, river clean up, boat drop, etc. The blueways are one of the most underdeveloped and under-utilized natural assets in the two communities. A trail connection along the corridor would highlight the asset while providing an incentive for preservation and clean-up.

MB8 – Build downtown public restrooms.

A recent downtown Middlebury focus group identified the need for public restrooms as the number one issue. This same concern came up in the community conversations meetings as part of the Vibrant Communities engagement process. If Middlebury is to be customer and visitor friendly they need free, clean and accessible public restrooms.

MB9 – Create a Community Cultural Enrichment Council.

There are many events, activities and venues in Middlebury and Bristol, but no one place that ties them all together. There is a state-of-the-art music venue at the high school, a community center at the Boys & Girls Club, civic theater, a world-renowned outdoor chapel at Krider Gardens, etc. There should be a single place to promote and help facilitate these opportunities for cultural and arts amenities, while also seeking to grow opportunities. This coordinating effort could also facilitate micro-loans for business development.

MB10 – Create a downtown public art program.

There will be a consolidated effort to increasing the unique elements within Middlebury and Bristol, make them marketable to an outside audience, and thus better capable of attracting visitors. Through the strategic placement of public art, the towns could increase our marketability while also improving the quality of life for current residents.

MB11 – Prepare a downtown development plan.

The downtowns of Middlebury and Bristol could be improve their vitality by increasing overall variety of restaurants, shops and filled storefronts. Revitalizing the building stock and improving the streetscapes (like street furniture, lighting, parking, landscaping, etc.) should also be considered important potential strategies.

MB12 – Construct the Spring Valley Tunnel.

One of Middlebury’s most dangerous crossings is at Northridge High School and US 20 near the Spring Valley subdivision. Kids of all ages are forced to cross US 20 as they walk home or to the shopping plaza. Similar to the tunnel constructed in Goshen at Shanklin Plaza (with successful results), this tunnel will allow for multi-modal transportation year-round safety. It will be well-lit and a safe alternative to an at-grade crossing.

MB13 – Conduct a feasibility study for the Trestle Terrace Development.

Friends of Middlebury Parks has been working to develop an area between SR 13 and the Pumpkinvine Trail/Krider Garden. One option for the land could be an amphitheater. A feasibility study and market research study needs to be conducted to ensure profitability.

MB14 – Evaluate options for a grocery store.

Middlebury residents have long waited for a mid-to-high end grocery store. One common complaint of residents is that they have to drive 20-30 minutes to get groceries (e.g. Meijer, Martins). The two current stores in town cater to bulk shopping or essentials only. There are a few locations the town and local businesses have sought out, but the land is overpriced, or the owner is not willing to sell. The town will evaluate options and recommend a prudent next step to deliver this amenity to the people of Middlebury.

The Middlebury & Bristol
Community Conversations

Mar. 10 6-8 PM
Middlebury Town Hall

During the Community Conversations participants were asked to think about the central assets and opportunities they see within their community. The Middlebury & Bristol conversations included:

Ideas & Comments

What do you think?

Now that you’ve had a chance to review the Action Agenda, let us know what you think. What do you support? What are your concerns? Let us know below.

Middlebury & Bristol Form

Want to get involved?

Is there a particular proposal where you feel like you could be helpful? Let us know and get involved in the implementation of the Action Agenda.

Get involved (Action Agenda Implementation)
(If this is a better method for reaching you)