Forum held to discuss Downtown Library and Culture Center

Community

In September of 2018, El Paso City Council approved a Mexican American Culture Center to be built within the main public library in Downtown El Paso.

On Sunday, members of the community along with local leaders held a forum at the downtown library to discuss why they don’t want the center to be part of the library.

“Everybody puts their nose in the library,” Eva Ross, one of the members of the forum, said. “I brought my son here, my only child and it’s my favorite Sunday recreational venue.”

Local leaders discussed why not to build the center within the library, explaining that having a center be part of the library would sacrifice supply and space.

Critics say the downtown library must be the most resourceful to the community since it is the main branch.

“The community at large is not well informed of the actual plans of the city to take 40 percent of the space of the library, wedge the cultural center and in the process diminish the library,” Dr. Oscar Martinez from the Community First Coalition said.

Their preferred location is the Abraham Chavez Theater. City Engineer Sam Rodriguez was also present at the forum. He explained the facility in the Abraham Chavez Theater would cost more money and have less space. 

To compare the two, the City estimates the cost for the center at the library to be approximately $16 million and $40 million if it were built in the Chavez theater. 

Rodriguez thinks the library is the best fit. “When you look at the amount of space, we have 60,000 ft2. Only about 20 or 25,000 sq. ft. of space are currently being used,” he said. “We will be able to get a whole lot of programming, all the programming that’s currently in the new addition into the existing original building without losing services.”

Local leaders say the next step is to have more communication between them and city leaders. 

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