City temporarily stops demolition of Lincoln Center

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 11:50pm

El Paso says not so fast, as City Council votes unanimously during a special meeting to try and halt the demolition of the Lincoln Center

Mayor Lesser called the meeting Tuesday afternoon -- after learning that TxDOT and the demolition company were setting up fences around the building, the first step toward demolition.

Despite the efforts from protestors -- and the city council's dissension -- there is a fence all around the former school turned community center.

The vote gives the city attorney a green light to file an injunction to stop TxDOT from knocking down the Lincoln Center.

When the vote was read, the crowd inside the chambers erupted in support.

"si se puede si se puede si se puede," they chanted.

"TxDOT may be the most influential agency in the state of Texas, but this message goes real clear and loud that this community values its culture. This community values its heritage," said City Representative Lily Limon.

Tuesday's vote followed a heated protest outside the Lincoln Center.

Protesters formed a human chain around the building to try and stop construction crews.

TxDOT said the fences are to protect the public from asbestos found inside.

They say they want to bring the building down because of incidents like what happened Tuesday. A Coco Cola truck crash and almost went off the U.S. 54 -- not too far away.

A proposed connector highway over the Lincoln center -- would put the building in harms way.

Bob bileik: "We are trying to enhance the area as best as possible,” said TxDOT District Engineer Bob Bielek. “At the same time we have to make decisions about what is in the publics, the general public’s best interest."

Police had to intervene to break up the protesters. But they weren't done. Many left the Lincoln Center and continued their protest downtown -- outside Tuesday’s emergency meeting.

Representative Limon said they know the vote only buys the city a few days to find a solution.

"This is not a permanent solution. But if we had done nothing, perhaps the Lincoln Center would be demolished tomorrow."

She said the city's attorney plans to file that injunction tomorrow -- and until a judge issues ruling the demolition can't happen.

In the meantime - City Council will also be talking about getting the Lincoln Center back from TxDOT. 


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