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Former downtown library directors clash on Mexican American Cultural Center

Protestors showed up to Mexican American Cultural Center open house

The outrage continues over the Mexican American Cultural Center's placement. Current plans have the center taking over 40 percent of the downtown Main Public Library.

Much of what is on that floor was brought to life after a Quality of Life Bond was voted on in 2000 to develop the building.

Some who saw that transformation say the proposal for the MACC is a slap in the face to the library.

"It was just very small and the children's area had lots of good books and great chidlren's librarians but it was packed," Kitty Spalding said.

Spalding is a retired public school librarian. She said she used to take her kids to the downtown library when they were young. That's why she campaigned for the bond that was approved in 2000.

"I think all voters realized, those who voted for it, it needed to be renovated and expanded," Spalding said.

The bond money helped create the Teen Town and Children's Center, spaces created with specific ages in mind.

But the proposed MACC is threatening those spaces.

"I think it I will be a real disadvantage to the people of El Paso not to have access to these spaces," Carol Brey said.

Brey was the library's director from 2000 to 2010. She saw when those areas were opened to the public in 2006.

Brey's replacement, Dionne Mack -- current deputy director for public safety and support services for the City of El Paso -- said maximizing areas the public doesn't currently use will help keep services for the public.

"There are so many better opportunities to make use of this space to really highlight the things that people find important," Mack said.

But Brey isn't sure those spaces are viable replacements.

"Those spaces are not attractive and it would take a lot to make them attractive," Brey said.

Placing the cultural center at the library is a cost-saving measure according to the city. Currently $15 million is allocated to the project.

Brey said she supports the cultural center but doesn't think the current plans properly serve the city.

"I really hope that the city can find a solution that will allow for the construction of an Mexican-American center and preservation of the main library spaces that are so important to our community," Brey said.

City Council will get a look at the new designs next week.

We conducted a poll asking people if they think the El Paso Mexican American Cultural Center should be housed in the new downtown El Paso library, below are the results from both Twitter and Facebook.



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