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Veterans area among ideas discussed for Lincoln Center

Veterans area among ideas discussed for Lincoln Center
Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 5:40pm

Plans are starting to emerge on what to do with the closed Lincoln Center in Central El Paso. However, there’s still a lot that needs to happen before the old community center and school can reopen its doors.

City council discussed the matter Tuesday and even though there are plenty of hurdles in their way, reps and community members are optimistic about reopening what some call ‘El Corazon del Paso’.

Miguel Juarez, a member of ‘Save the Lincoln Center,’ explained what used to take place within the now closed Lincoln center. Juarez and other members have been fighting to reopen these doors for years. But there are plenty of obstacles they need to strike down in order to make their plans materialize.

"The city does not own the building yet so we're in this limbo period,” Miguel Juarez said. The City of El Paso just sent a letter to TxDOT, who owns the building, to reacquire it."TxDOT did say that we do not need the building so they are pretty positive that they will be able to give the building back to the city."

They also need to secure funding. "Community college said that it would cost about, under $3 million to reopen the center,” Juarez told us.

For every hurdle, there is plenty of community support.

"We can go there and dance,” Carolina Ponce said.

"Put a gymnasium, a pool, community center, a library - something that we need,” Ruben Valenzuela told us.

One idea that was tossed around at Tuesday’s council meeting included creating a space for veterans.

"Mayor Leeser contacted Congressman O'Rourke and he said that if there's going to be, if veterans are going to be there then he might be able to find funding,” Juarez explained.

Many details still need to be hashed out, "It looks positive, but like I said it's going to take time."

But they've got time on their side to reopen these doors that have been closed since 2006.

As for the $3-million -- the group ‘Save Lincoln Center’ has plans to fundraise -- and the city may invest in the project as well, but have yet to put a hard figure down on paper.

TxDOT postponed plans to demolish the building -- after community pressure to save it.

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