Save the Lincoln Center rally held over the weekend

Jerry Najera, Multimedia Journalist
POSTED: 04:03 PM MDT Jul 22, 2013    UPDATED: 04:05 PM MDT Jul 22, 2013 
El Paso, Texas -

A hundred-year-old building in south-central El Paso could be reduced to rubble unless a preservation committee acts fast.

The Lincoln Park Preservation Committee rallied to save Lincoln Center Sunday evening.

The city shut the center down after a storm in 2006, citing run-down conditions.

But committee members tell ABC-7 the center needs to be reopened.

"For many years it operated as a cultural art center, so by de facto, this has been the first and the last Latino, Chicano cultural center in the region of city of over 80 percent Latinos," said organizer Miguel Juarez, and the rest of the Lincoln Park Preservation Committee that wants keep the center from being demolished agrees.

The city declared the building uninhabitable in 2006.

Some City Council members wanted to renovate the center. Others said it would be too costly and suggested tearing it down instead.

But in 2011, the city handed the building back to the Texas Department of Transportation. Now, the Lincoln Park Preservation Committee has to come up with a solution before TXDOT decides to do away with the vacant center.

"TXDOT gave us a deadline of August 1stt," said Juarez.

State Sen. Jose Rodriguez showed up to lend his support.

He told ABC-7, "This center is a focal point for Chicano culture; it has served as a gathering place for many years for cultural events."

Rossie Lopez is a resident of the area, and she told KVIA that saving the building is important for El Paso's youth.

"I believe that our kids and our future generations need a cultural center where they can keep in touch with their roots, with their heritage, that they can embrace both cultures where we live," said Lopez.

Rodriguez already has a vision for the center, which he doesn't want to see destroyed:

"We want to have lectures, poets, classes. So we have a lot of goals for this center, a true cultural and community service center. That's what we want," said Rodriguez.

TXDOT officials did send ABC-7 a statement that reads:

"The Lincoln center is not safe for occupancy. TXDOT is willing to work with any public entity that is willing to assume the liability and maintenance of the facility."

The Lincoln Park Preservation Committee said it is already working with several entities to get the project moving forward.