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Designers and officials will host the first public input meeting about the latest plans to the redevelop Alamo Plaza on Monday night, but attendees should not expect their voices to be literally heard.
Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) told the Rivard Report that in an attempt to streamline the process attendees will be encouraged to use their cellphones to text feedback on the design to a designated number, or write their thoughts on notecards provided during the meeting.
“We know we can’t get to everybody if there’s going to be an open mic,” said Treviño, one of now-two chairs of the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee and a member of the Alamo Management Committee. Tonight’s two-hour meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. at Ron Darner Park Operations Headquarters, 5800 Enrique M. Barrera Parkway.
The goal is to maximize awareness of the plan and allow for the public to see the entire presentation, he said. “If we get stuck on [a certain issue] for 30 minutes … that’s not fair.”
The most controversial proposals include closing streets, moving the Cenotaph, demolishing historic buildings, and cordoning off the plaza – all of which were similar concerns expressed last year during public meetings regarding the conceptual master plan.
“We will do everything we can to make sure that everybody can provide some feedback,” he said, adding that if there is “extra time” some questions could be taken at the end.
Not everyone has the ability to text, acknowledged Trish DeBerry, president and CEO of the DeBerry Group, which was hired to oversee marketing and public relations for the redevelopment project. There will be iPads available during the meeting for such cases.
“Texted questions will be transmitted onto a screen [Monday night] for all to see,” DeBerry said. “Those questions will then be loaded onto [The Alamo master plan] website, and categorized by subject matter and answered.”
Some of the meetings last year, which gave an overview of the conceptual master plan that was later approved by City Council in May 2017, lasted up to three and a half hours – instead of the planned two hours – because dozens of citizens signed up to speak for 1-3 minutes. At least one other meeting last year utilized a notecard strategy.
Treviño said all input would be compiled and centralized, though he did not outline how that would be accomplished.
David Lake, principal of local firm Lake/Flato Architects and a vocal opponent to plans that would close streets and control access to the now-open plaza, said he is wary of public meetings that don’t allow for the public to hear each other’s input.
He also took issue with the locations of the four public meetings that are miles away from the downtown plaza.
At present, the strategy of taking notecards and texts will be the prevailing mode of public input moving forward.
Four more meetings are planned for July, their locations are pending.