Activists get extension from TXDOT to save El Paso's Lincoln Center

EL PASO, Texas - Activists wanting to save El Paso's Lincoln Center got an extension to find a way to preserve the building.

TXDOT owns the central El Paso building, and had asked preservationists to come up with a plan by October 1st to find a steward for the property.

Mayor Oscar Leeser said he called TXDOT chairman Ted Houghton yesterday to appeal the deadline. Today, TXDOT announced it is giving activists one more year to find an agency that will take over the building and pay for its renovation.

Some people pleaded with city council during Tuesday's meeting to help them find a solution. Others criticized council members for approving a Hispanic heritage center to be built in downtown, shifting resources they felt could have gone to save the historic center.

Speakers said they are Mexican-American, not Hispanic, and they want money put into their community center beneath the Spaghetti Bowl.

Activists said they hope the El Paso Community College can step up to take over the building in the next year.

The City of El Paso used the building until 2007, when it was shut down due to a mold outbreak. Officials then said humidity in the area from the Storm 2006 floods aggravated the situation. Activists say the mold is gone and the building should be revitalized so its history can live on.

"This is El Paso's heritage, El Paso's history," said Miguel Juarez, Lincoln Center Preservation Committee member. "The building is the last standing building in the village known as Concordia where El Paso started."

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