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Potential partnership with EPCC may save historic Lincoln Center

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 9:36pm

The push to preserve and re-open the historic Lincoln Center in South Central El Paso may be moving forward.
The Lincoln Park Conservation Committee is hopeful it will get the chance to team up with El Paso Community College to buy the building from TXDOT and re-open it, ultimately preserving a building that has immense historical value to El Paso.

Luz Terrazas plays with her children in Lincoln Park's playground.She's lived in the historic community underneath the spaghetti bowl for more than twenty years. Her home is across the street from the 101 year-old abandoned Lincoln Center; once a staple in the community.

"It was helping people. It could help my kids, but not anymore," said Terrazas.

Luz's mother worked at the community center before it closed in 2006. She says it helped people in need, taught dance, martial arts, English language classes, and helped people get their GED's.

She hopes it will open again one day.

"It's for the culture. It can help our kids to learn more about the culture. Kids will have something else to do instead of being just around, playing. They can learn something else," said Terrazas.

Since 2006 several community members like Hector Gonzales, the president of the Lincoln Park Conservation Committee have been working to save the building.

"Take a serious look at doing what's right for the community and saving the center," said Gonzales as he addressed the El Paso Community College Board of trustees during Wednesday's meeting.

 The City of El Paso shut it down temporarily for environmental reasons, claiming it had mold damage from the 2006 floods. But after a failed demolition attempt, the city returned property rights for the Lincoln Center back to the Texas Department of Transportation.

"It was a first school for Mexican American children who were allowed to participate in public schools," said Gonzales.

The Lincoln Park group hired an environmentalist to conduct a report on the building's condition.

"There is no mold per say. There is some negligence that the city had," said Gonzales.

Now the group hopes to partner with the El Paso Community College to try and save what they call the heart of El Paso.

"A lot of meaning to the Chicano community here in El Paso. It would be a shame to demolish so much history that sits right here," said Gonzales.

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