EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — With construction underway around the Spaghetti Bowl, KTSM checked in on the progress made to eventually restore the historic Lincoln Center.
As we previously reported, TxDOT El Paso changed its construction plans after activists fought to keep the building standing.
The center is completely fenced off surrounded by construction sites surrounding it. However, now community members of the neighborhood are tasked to find a solution to what happens once it re-opens.
“There was an art gallery, There’s a small theatre inside, 13 classrooms, dance rooms, all kinds of possibilities inside the building,” Hector Gonzales, President of the Lincoln Park Conservation Committee said.
Members of the Lincoln Park Conservation Committee are working to find a group to run and maintain the Lincoln Center, currently owned by TxDOT El Paso, once construction for the ‘I-10 Connect’ project is complete.
“Currently that is our objective right now. We’re working to find a solution to save the center and re-open it for the community,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said while TxDOT agreed to not demolish the Lincoln Center, the goal is to keep it the same it was before, “Of course we would always look to make improvements or to enhance it in any way but as it stands right now the idea is to just re-open the community center the way it was.”
Due to the on-going construction, Gonzales said nine of the pillars with historic murals at Lincoln Park were affected.
“So we did lose some of the murals but we’ve been ensured by TxDOT that we would be allowed to recreate the murals by the original artists in the same locations to bring the community back to where it was before,” Gonzales shared.
TxDOT sent KTSM the following statement, “The safety of any occupants of the Lincoln Center is the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) top priority. Currently, the center is closed and protected from construction activity on our I-10 Connect project that is expected to be in place for another two years. Prior to any consideration of a property lease, the building would need to undergo remediation and be brought up to current building code standards. Any lease agreement would be handled by TxDOT’s Real Estate Services. “ Tomas Treviño, P.E. TxDOT El Paso District Engineer.
Despite bearing with the continuous work and waiting for the center to re-open, there are still events at the park along with new additions to the neighborhood.
“The neighborhood continues to thrive. We’ve had recent additions of the art gallery and some other businesses that have moved into the neighborhood and we look forward to working with them. It’s something that might help improve the neighborhood in the future,” Gonzales said.
According to TxDOT, construction for the I-10 Connect project began the spring of last year and has three years allocated in completing the project.