The citizens of San Antonio have trust issues with City Hall. This distrust is unfortunate because it seems to be driving the opposition against the Alamo Master Plan. It is an unfortunate atmosphere because the plan features a phenomenal design and is an epic opportunity for San Antonio. It is a shame that a world-class team is being handcuffed because community pessimism is at all-time high. The proposed Alamo Master Plan is a working masterpiece. If we support this superior team with what it was assembled to accomplish, the reverence paid to the Alamo is on par with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Holocaust Museum. This is because the Master Plan achieves the highest order for the Alamo. Efforts to reclaim the original site represent the maximum appreciation of the meaning and significance of the Alamo. Anything contrary is inconsequential. The buildings around the Alamo are meaningless when compared to the reverence of the site.
The edifices should never have been built on the grounds in the first place and should be demolished. If there is a criticism to be made about reclamation, it is that the plan does not go far enough in also demolishing the Hyatt garage from the sacred battlefield. Street closure concerns are also trivial compared to the importance of the Alamo. Vehicular traffic on and around the site is a distraction, disgraceful and dishonorable. The streets around the Alamo should have never opened. The preservation of the Alamo is of utmost importance, and what remains should not have to endure erosion from nearby traffic vibrations. The city needs to get right with the community. The question “How can we trust that the city will listen to us and do what the community wants?” was posed to me recently by a member of the Alamo Freedom Fighters while I was facilitating an Alamo plan community meeting. I searched deep but could not answer. But it spoke volumes. No one can deny that perhaps the Alamo means most to those who know the history surrounding the events of 1836.
Their passion and turnout are undeniable and remarkable. Their voices deserve to be heard, and their primary message was clear: Be honest about your plans and don’t move the Cenotaph. As a member of the Alamo Citizen’s Advisory Committee and a descendant of one of San Antonio’s seven founding families who were around at the Alamo and the Republic of Texas, I understand that opposition to the Alamo plan is both misplaced and misunderstood. The plan restores what’s been stolen from the Alamo and honors its founding, its fight, its legacy and its heroes. This inherent understanding and appreciation is known by those whose blood runs deepest in Texas. Not even Phil Collins, with his vast Alamo collection, can touch this essence. Later that same evening, after facilitating the community meeting, I was asked again by La Prensa Texas whether the community can trust the city. This time I gave an emphatic “Yes.” I believe this City Council understands the gravity of the situation. After the Hays Street Bridge, Amazon, the national political party conventions, SA300 Tricentennial and Centro, the city cannot afford to miss on the Alamo. The current direction of the Alamo Master Plan should be embraced, and the team behind its design properly supported with the community’s reinforcement rather than its misdirected frustration. Support them, and they will get these details right, and give San Antonio and the world an Alamo to marvel and revere for the ages.
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