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Sunday, September 22, 2013 - 11:45pm
El Paso, TX (KDBC) — El Pasoans and tourists alike gathered in Central El Paso on Sunday to celebrate Lincoln Park Day, but it may be the last time they do so with a looming demolition deadline fast approaching.
There was dancing, there was fun, but most of all there was and is the worry that TXDOT, who owns the building, may have it demolished by October 1st if another organization does not adopt the 101-year old building because it's too costly for the state to maintain.
Amid the fun that is the annual Lincoln Park Day is the uncertainty of the Lincoln Center's fate. "The Texas Department of Transportation refuses to change its mind on the demolition clause giving the full responsibility of demolition to the community college,” Hector Gonzales, the President of the Lincoln Park Conservation Committee said.
TXDOT owns the 101-year-old building that has housed the first school for Mexican-Americans, at times an art gallery, and overall a place for young people to invest their time learning. "Instead of going out [on] the streets causing trouble or hustling or whatever, the Lincoln Center could be part of their life,” Raul Pedroza, the President of the Slow and Low Car Club told us.
"The Lincoln Center has been the corazon del El Paso,” Senator Jose Rodriguez, [D] District 29, said. El Paso Community College has shown interest in taking over responsibility of what some call the 'heart of El Paso’ but community leaders explained it hasn't been that simple. "TXDOT which is the owner, the Texas Department of Transportation, is intending to demolish the building."
The city closed down the center in 2006 after flooding damaged the recreation center causing a mold problem. "I think it should be saved, being it, it's the history of El Paso,” Pedroza exclaimed.
Community leaders want to reopen the center which may costs upwards of $3-million."We have to do everything we can to save this center,” the Senator pleaded. They're also hoping it could serve as a reminder of the Sun City's history. "and I encourage the community to rise up and express their feelings and support the Lincoln Center." As well as its future.
There is currently a petition to save the center on change.org. The day has also been proclaimed as ‘Lincoln Park Day’ by the state.