San José Neighbors: Protect Our Missions, Surround Them With Parks

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Terry A. Ybanez (second from right) stands with friends and neighbors during a recent show of protest to development near San Antonio's Spanish colonial Missions. Courtesy photo.

Terry A. Ybanez (second from right) stands with friends and neighbors during a recent show of protest to development near San Antonio's Spanish colonial Missions. Courtesy photo.

Editor’s Note: Ybanez is a member of Mission San José Neighborhood Association, writing in response to a recent commentary by Rebecca Viagran published by the San Antonio Express-News

The communities around the Missions believe that preservation and economic growth can coexist. What we do not believe is that high density development directly next to the Missions is the right thing to do. Our petition, protests, and media coverage pressed District 3 Councilwoman Viagran to oppose the multifamily proposal across from Mission San José’s visitor center. Unfortunately, it did not stop the multifamily, mixed-use development on the Archdiocese’s property and former St. John Seminary directly next to Mission Concepción and the land directly behind Mission Concepción. Our concern about the effect of the designation is that the type of development that the city wants to promote encroaches on the authenticity of the Missions and on the same neighborhoods that are part of the living culture of the World Heritage Designation.

There is no “de facto moratorium” plaguing District 3, as the council woman wrote in her recent commentary in the Express-News. For the past 12 years or more various businesses and development have been constructed including Mission Plaza on Roosevelt and Military Drive; Brooks City Base and City Base on SE Military; shopping centers on Goliad; Pre-K For SA school on South New Braunfels; apartments complexes including some on VFW Boulevard, Mission Road, South New Braunfels, Brook City Base, Loop 410, SE Military Drive, and near Highway 37 and Interstate 281;  subdivisions including some on South Presa, Roosevelt Avenue, Military Drive, Southcross Street; a golf course on Military Drive, hotels, the Methodist Hospital in Brook City Base; Mission Library; Mission Reach; Toyota’s manufacturing plant; Palo Alto College; and Texas A&M University-San Antonio.

Development has happened and will continue to happen in the Southside because there is room and a desire by developers and the city to build in the Southside – but not right next to our Missions.

The proposals for development that are of concern to the Mission communities are those that are directly next to the Missions like the development in the archdiocese’s property and the land behind it. Both are directly next to Mission Concepción and were approved by City Council. Many believe that the vacant land directly next to the Missions should be made into parks – cultural, recreational, gardens. Parkland will protect the newly designated World Heritage sites with open land, open sky, and access to river; they will preserve the land that was once indigenous lands and contain buried ancestors of the Mission descendants. The parks would honor the descendants who for years have requested that the city recognize their contributions to our Missions. The parks would promote an authentic experience for the tourists who visit our Missions. Lastly, parks next to the Missions would nurture the promised profit to all the businesses around the Missions because of the increase visits to the Missions by locals and tourists.

We believe that the Missions have one story and should be judged as one World Heritage site. We have been in dialogue with our city leaders. We hope that they are listening to us.


 *Top image: Terry A. Ybanez (second from right) stands with friends and neighbors during a recent show of protest to development near San Antonio’s Spanish colonial Missions. Courtesy photo.

 Related Stories:

San Antonio’s World Heritage Development Plan Taking Shape

City Discussing 100 Day Plan to Address Mission Challenges

Planning for the ‘Visitor Experience’ at the Missions

Alliance for San Antonio Missions Convenes Next Roundtable

San Antonio to Hire World Heritage & Tricentennial Directors

7 thoughts on “San José Neighbors: Protect Our Missions, Surround Them With Parks

  1. It’s hard for me to fathom why city leaders would jeopardize our missions, when so many around the world would help preserve them. When the surrounding lands are gone, there’s no going back and we will have squandered an opportunity to show how they were used to support the missions of the 1700’s.

    Surely, the increase to the tax base is not worth the loss of the simple beauty of these sites. We need look no further than Alamo Plaza to see what happens when development is left unchecked.

  2. Maybe UNESCO World Heritage needs to be notified that apartments are going up next to these designated sites. All it would take is a negative feedback from UNESCO World Heritage about these proposals.

    • Mike, we should verify with UNESCO, because the City Council and Father David continue to spread rumors that UNESCO approved the development in and around Mission Concepcion. I find that very hard to believe. But again, the Mission Protection overlay is a total joke. How can they call it a protection overlay, when the developers are able to build within the overlay. We are asking for the City to change that overlay to a more realistic Protection Buffer Zone. Lets leave as much green space/park land around our Missions.

      • Armando, No one, including Fr. David, is spreading rumors. Please be careful in posting accusatory comments unsupported by any facts. As we have reported, the World Heritage Nominations Evaluator and ICOMOS representative did review the proposed multifamily complex designs for the property adjacent to Mission Concepción when he was here and offered several changes the developers adopted.–RR

  3. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if the Missions were surrounded by parks the caliber of those on the North Side?

    These all promote a bond with nature instead opportunities for consumerism and junk food.

    Friends of Friedrich Wilderness, Phil Hardberger Park, Eisenhower Park, Mcallister park , Orsinger Park, O.P. Shnabel Park, Salado Creek Greenway, Government Canyon State Natural Area, Panther Spring Park, Walker Ranch Heritage Park, Olmos Basin Park ,Tobin Park , Crownridge Canyon Natural Area

    A park like any of the above would provide nature tourism dollars, promote an outdoorsy lifestyle for the locals, mitigate the effects of flooding, equalize the imbalance in the quality of parks, minimize the urban heat island, and buffer the missions from intense development.

  4. Bob,
    Fact #1. I walked the Mission Concepcion neighborhood, knocked on doors and had petitions signed. All the neighbors we spoke with did not agree with apartments near the Mission. Most did not even know what was going on. What they were all agreement with was for the Archdioceses to clean and repair their properties.

    Fact #2. If our City, and reporters would read the UNESCO Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, Section II.F Para 96-106 it is clear that UNESCO would not agree to the Mission Concepcion Development.

    I took a day off work so I can attend, and speak at the rezoning hearing for the property behind the Mission. Father David stood there and told the zoning board how his Parishioners and neighbors were all in agreement with the development. Only ones present were the 210 developers and one parishioner, his secretary .

    Fact #3, District 3 did not have a zoning board member present. Our representative resigned months ago. I applied for the position, and I was turned down. I was recently informed by Councilwoman Viagran staff that I was not selected because of my stance against development around the Missions. Not a rumor, her staff made that clear to me.

    Bod, I enjoy the RR. I make no accusations without facts.

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