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!


NW1 – Build multi-use bike/walking trail from Nappanee to Wakarusa.

The development of a multi-use trail connecting Nappanee and Wakarusa would be an important symbolic and recreational connection between the two close communities. The connection could help link the two communities into the larger trail network growing around the county. The project should be done in coordination with other trails groups to maximize funding opportunities and explore future connections.

NW2 – Create a community calendar (with a focus on increased advertising).

As part of the cities’ overarching efforts to update their web presence and create a more informed and inclusive environment for citizens and visitors, it is looking at developing an integrated community calendar that can be utilized as a centralized information and social hub for all news/events taking place within the greater Nappanee/Wakarusa community.

NW3 – Rehabilitate/Repurpose existing Buildings.

The cities will identify vacant, unused, or underutilized buildings and look for ways to bring new life. New investments that promote foot traffic, and add to the vibrancy of districts should be encouraged.

NW4 – Create new or re-purposed affordable housing.

Nappanee and Wakarusa need additional housing to accommodate the individuals and families that would like to live within the communities. Quality affordable housing has been an ongoing problem for the last 50 years. Young families (25 to 45 year olds) would like to locate in our communities but cannot find appropriate and affordable housing. A plan will be initiated to identify missing housing segments and work with potential developers to meet latent demand.

NW5 – Create gateway improvements.

Develop inviting gateways that promote the opportunities and values of each of the two communities. Improvements will reflect the unique identity of each town.

NW6 – Create adult programming and activities.

There is a need to attract adults of all ages to come and spend time in Wakarusa/Nappanee by providing activities that would be enjoyable. The communities want to create a “buzz” about local places and develop into a cultural mecca with a small town feel.

NW7 – Prepare a tourism and restaurants strategy.

Nappanee and Wakarusa will encourage year-round tourism by partnering with and promoting existing attractions and encouraging creative, new events. The towns will look to provide incentives in an effort to bring in or provide more upscale/diversified dining options.

NW8 – Develop a neighborhood activation plan.

Wa-Nee’s unique composite of two communities is made up of many different neighborhoods who can individually contribute to the vitality of the community as a whole. All individual neighborhoods will be encouraged to promote block parties, block clean-up events, safety and security initiatives, etc. and to move beyond simply inhabiting the neighborhood to thriving as a sub-community of Wa-Nee.

NW9 – Launch incentives for existing businesses/diversity.

The towns will work with current property/business owners in our retail and professional service businesses to improve the look of their buildings through façade improvement programs. The communities will work with current building owners with vacancies to identify and obtain new and diverse businesses through reduced rent incentives for existing or starter businesses.

NW10 – Create an Action Committee for Wa-Nee initiatives.

The towns will create a committee to go over action items to make sure they are being accomplished and worked toward on a regular basis. This committee should represent the diversity of age and culture of the communities. The body should include between 10 and 15 people.

The Nappanee & Wakarusa
Community Conversations

February 23, 2016, 7-9pm
Northwood High School

During the Community Conversations participants were asked to think about the central assets and opportunities they see within their community. The Nappanee & Wakarusa 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.

Nappanee & Wakarusa 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)
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