Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Representatives from the City of San Antonio, the Texas General Land Office, and the Alamo Endowment on Tuesday agreed unanimously on seven key elements of the multimillion-dollar plan to redevelop Alamo Plaza, according to members of the Alamo Master Plan Management Committee.
The meeting took place via phone at 1:30 p.m. and was closed to the public.
"The unanimous vote from the six-member Management Committee to move the recommendations of the Citizen Advisory Committee to the Executive Committee is the product of years of hard work, countless meetings, and a commitment to tell the complete Alamo story," said Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), who serves on both the citizen and management committees.
The plan now moves forward to the Executive Committee with overwhelming support from both the Management Committee and Alamo Citizen Advisory Committee, the latter of which approved of the plan Thursday evening. All 26 citizens who voted that night support relocating the Alamo Cenotaph, closing adjacent streets, moving parade routes, the Alamo site plan, and a master lease. Most voted in favor of managed plaza access for a formal point of entry and an analysis of nearby historic buildings to become an Alamo museum.
Two members of the citizen committee, George Cisneros and Ann McGlone, voted against the managed access to the plaza. McGlone cast the lone vote against the historic building analysis. Click here to download a vote summary and here for both of the committees' resolutions.
Relocating the Cenotaph 500 feet south has drawn protest from some groups, including descendants of the Alamo defenders who died during the 1836 Battle. Others in the urban planning community opposed blocking off the Alamo Plaza's original footprint to casual foot traffic and instead directing visitors through the museum during its operating hours.
The City's appointees to the Management Committee are Treviño and City Manager Sheryl Sculley; the General Land Office appointees are special counsel Hector Valle and Communications Director Bryan Preston; and the Alamo Endowment's are philanthropist Ramona Bass and Gene Powell, a local real estate developer who chairs the Management Committee, is secretary of the Alamo Endowment, chairman of the nonprofit Remember the Alamo Foundation, and a member of The Alamo Trust. The Alamo Endowment is a private nonprofit dedicated to fundraising for the plan.
The Executive Committee comprises Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Land Commissioner George P. Bush, both of whom have veto power. They are expected to consider and vote on the plan in the coming months.
“Over the next few months, we will engage in the next steps of this process so we can get it right," Nirenberg said in an email. "The Alamo is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, and much work and discussion has brought us to this point. We will not rush through these critical phases, which will include a final Council vote, likely in November or December.
“I appreciate the passionate input brought by all members of the community, along with the hard work of citizen volunteers, staff, consultants, and elected officials. The final plan, when approved, should be and will be one that we can be proud of as San Antonians, as Texans, and as a global community."
Bush praised the decision.
"Today's vote by the Alamo Management Committee brings the Alamo one step closer to restoring its former glory," he said. "The Alamo is a symbol known across Texas as a beacon of liberty and freedom from an oppressive government.
The General Land Office manages the Alamo and Long Barrack, while the City owns the plaza and surrounding streets. Closing and conveying the streets to the General Land Office would require a City Council vote, which could take place after the City's Historic and Design Review and Planning commissions make their own recommendations.
"The State and the committee would like to see this move forward ... sooner rather than later," Preston told the Rivard Report. A project of this scale could lose "momentum," as did previous attempts to renovate the plaza.
"We do this right now and the Alamo will be set for hundreds of years to come," Preston said.
The effort to create a more "reverent" experience at the Alamo began in 2014, when City Council established the citizen group to develop guiding principles for what would become the Alamo Master Plan.
City Council approved a conceptual plan in 2017. That plan, along with stakeholder and community input gathered from several public meetings, was used to develop the version presented to the public earlier this year, which features more shade, a slightly different parade re-route, the possibility of demolishing nearby buildings, and more optional access points to the plaza.
"After years of dedication and debate, the Alamo Management Committee has voted to restore the historic mission footprint and 1836 battleground," Powell stated in a news release. "We look forward to Commissioner Bush and Mayor Nirenberg’s expeditious vote to move this plan forward to the City Council for their consideration."