This story was updated at 8:29 a.m.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Texas General Land Commissioner George P. Bush, the only two members on the Alamo Executive Committee, have signed off on the Alamo master plan that has drawn much controversy since the latest iteration was unveiled to the public in early June.
The plan now moves toward negotiations on a 50-year lease between the state and the city on the portion of Alamo Plaza owned by the city. There will be options for two 25-year extensions, according to the release by the Texas Land Commission.
“After four years of historical analysis, debate, and discussion the plan to restore the Alamo to its former dignity will finally become a reality,” Bush said in a statement.
In late August, early September, the Alamo plan was approved by two lower committees — the Alamo Management and the Citizens Advisory — after three months of heated public debate. The overall master planning process for Alamo Plaza began four years ago.
The plan, which would partially recreate the Alamo’s original footprint into an open-air museum that would be sectioned off during museum hours, has drawn the ire of several groups, including This is Texas Freedom Force, the Alamo Defenders Descendants Association, the San Antonio Conservation Society and a cadre of local architects and urban planners.
By far the most contentious of the issues has been the proposed relocation of the Cenotaph memorial from its place in front of the Long Barracks to a location 500 feet in front of the Menger Hotel, outside the compound’s walls.
The Conservation Society remains at odds with much of the plan, but mostly opposes the demolition of the Crockett, Palace and Woolworth buildings, across Alamo Street from the shrine’s facade, which officials have not ruled out citing a pending architectural assessment of the buildings.
A group of architects, lead by David Lake, partner and co-founder of prominent architecture firm Lake | Flato, oppose sectioning off the Alamo open-air museum, which the current plan calls for. District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño said the space would have one main entrance during museum hours, roughly at the Crockett building, where visitors would enter for a kind of maximum reverential experience. Two auxiliary entrances off to the sides—by the Menger and Emily Morgan hotels—would open up if the plaza were to get congested. Six entrances would open up during non-museum hours.
In a July op-ed in the San Antonio Express-News penned by Nirenberg, Treviño and Judge Nelson Wolff, the triumvirate warned against erecting any type of railing or wall.
“We oppose any type of barrier that would limit access to the Plaza at any time, other than for special events,” they wrote.
When asked directly by the Heron about the supposed contradiction, Treviño defended the article and the plan.
“What we wrote was that the site needed to be maintained as a civic space, aside from special or scheduled events. And so that is addressed by what we’re telling you: museum hours are special and scheduled events,” he said.
We wanted to ask Nirenberg the same question, but the mayor and his office have yet to respond to multiple interview requests—including one placed yesterday afternoon—on this very topic.
The lease is expected to be completed by the time the City Council’s scheduled vote on Oct. 18. The council also will vote on the closure of portions of Alamo, Houston and Crockett streets.
Before City Council considers the plan, in a joint meeting, the Planning Commission and the Historic and Design Review Commission will vote on the plan at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 10 in the Development and Business Services Board Room, 1901 S. Alamo St., the San Antonio Express-News reported.
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