Wednesday, May 10, 2017

City Council Will Determine Alamo Plaza's Future on Thursday

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 1:57 PM

On Thursday morning, the San Antonio City Council will decide whether to give "conceptual approval" to specific designs on the Alamo Master Plan, including plans to close down streets around the Plaza and relocating the Cenotaph. Aspects of the design have evolved to address citizen feedback, but updated blueprints still include building over the historic acequia —and, most notably, constructing a glass wall around the plaza.

The Alamo Management Committee, charged with the task of redesigning and restoring the Alamo, has repeated that they will take into consideration residents' concerns during what will be a seven-year, nearly half-billion dollar overhaul of the plaza. At the start of the last public hearing on May 3, they revealed one tweak in response to feedback—to keep more trees than had originally been proposed.

"We will continue to listen," promised city councilman Roberto Treviño.

Citizens and organizations across the city have voiced their misgivings about the project during the three public hearings. Janet Dietel, president of the San Antonio Conservation Society, echoed the opinions of many when she said closing streets downtown and walling off the Alamo compound would prohibit public use. Another pressure point is the Cenotaph, which now stands prominently in the plaza as a memorial to the fallen defenders of the famed mission. With the go-ahead on Thursday, the committee's plan would move it to a less conspicuous location toward Market Street. Lee Spencer White, president of the Alamo Defenders Descendants Association, told the committee to "leave it alone," calling the Cenotaph a "headstone" for ancestors who died in the 1836 battle.

Regardless of these changes, the Alamo does need major intervention, according to the conservator at the Alamo, Pam Rosser. Last week she said that in her seven years at the site she has not been able to repair extensive damage to the mission and nearby long barracks. "I can't do it on my own...I need this great team to do their master plan," she told the committee.

Tucked into the plans council is considering on Thursday is the glass wall that would span the original north and south walls of the courtyard. Plans state that the new walls would "interpret [the historic wall and entrance] using 21st century technology, materials, and systems." According to the Express-News, the glass walls are not up for a vote on Thursday, but will be presented at a later date.

Despite promises to listen, it appears the Committee did not hear the dozens of people or White when she said last week, "No walls. Period."


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