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Fate of Lincoln Center to be discussed in city coucil meeting

UPDATE: City council is expected to discuss the fate of south-central El Paso’s Lincoln Center Tuesday morning during its weekly meeting.

It could vote to withdraw a lawsuit and restraining order against the Texas Department of Transportation, as part of a deal offered by the state agency last week.

TxDoT officials said it would push back the planned demolition to October 1 and work with the city to remove and restore culturally significant murals inside the Lincoln Center if the city withdraws its lawsuit.

PREVIOUS STORY: An event in south central El Paso Sunday showed the amount of growing support to save the Lincoln Center.

At Stand for Lincoln Center there was dancing, music and a strong sense of community at Lincoln Park right behind the building that’s been a staple in the neighborhood for more than 100 years.

Those who say the Lincoln Center deserves to stand, like Hector Gonzales from the Lincoln Park Conservation Committee, say it’s more than just a historic building. Although it was the first school for minorities in El Paso, it has meant a lot to a south central neighborhood.

“Here in Lincoln Park we estimate 22 families will be displaced initially in the first phase along with about eight different commercial businesses,” Gonzales said if the Texas Department of Transportation’s plan to demolish the building and build a ramp connecting Interstate 10 to U.S. 54 and the Border Highway goes as planned.

TxDOT has owned the building since it stopped being used as a school in 1969. It was then allowed to be operated as a community center by the city, before it was given back to the state.

“The perception that this fight has only started this last week and people only coming out to protest is not true,” Gonzales said. He’s been fighting with other activists since the center was abandoned in 2006.

Continued events at the site show growing support to not only protect the center’s history, but also allow the building to be used for future generations.

Those who want to see the Lincoln Center survive as a staple say they’re not asking for much.

“We’re merely asking the city to take over the building in name and make themselves responsible because TxDOT will only turn the building over to another government entity,” Gonzales said.

The wheel is certainly in motion, and support from community government leaders is there, as shown so far by delaying the demolition until a consensus can be reached.

On Friday TxDOT told the city if it withdraws its lawsuit aimed at halting the demolition, TxDOT won’t knock down the center until Oct. 1, and will work with supporters to remove historic and culturally significant items from the center, including murals. City council will address this new offer on Tuesday. It has stood the test of time, but may not stand for much longer.

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