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What we'll battle over in latest plans for Alamo Plaza

Rendering of possible changes to Alamo Plaza. Photo courtesy: Texas General Land Office.

The latest plans revealed Tuesday night for major changes around Alamo Plaza scrapped the controversial glass walls proposed last year, but included a move of the Cenotaph, which will ensure another battle of the Alamo.

The crowd at the Witte Museum's Prassel Auditorium watched, listened, booed and cheered as members of the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee presented its updated 'Comprehensive Interpretive Plan.'


The first plan, presented last year, was widely panned for its glass walls designed to 'interpret' where the walls once stood of the original Mission San Antonio de Valero compound.

Some also criticized that plan for including a move of the Alamo Cenotaph monument two blocks to the south.

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The new plan would also move the Cenotaph, but a much shorter distance to the south, relocating it right in front of the Menger Hotel.

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Still, some in the crowd made it clear they don't want the Cenotaph moved at all and vowed to battle this plan.

The push to revamp Alamo Plaza has no set timeline and at this point no set budget, though it could include as much as $400 million in public and private dollars.

The state of Texas recently bought three buildings directly across Alamo Street from the mission chapel (what we call the Alamo) with plans to build a new museum in that area.

The buildings are directly above where the original west walls of the compound and proposals for what to do with two of those buildings are running into opposition already from conservationists.

One proposal would completely get rid of the two buildings, another would leave just their facades intact.

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This all brings up some of the other controversies around the site, which included plans for other monuments long before any of us were born.

One of them called for a 120-foot-tall tower to be built, based on a design in the 1880's by well known San Antonio architect Alfred Giles.

Another push in the early 1900's to build a much more massive 800-foot-tall tower near the Alamo also died because of a lack of funding.

The Cenotaph was finally built as part of an effort to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle, in 1936.

But from the beginning, it was also controversial.

According to an Express-News story by Paula Allen, the well-known Texas writer J. Frank Dobie lampooned it as looking “like a grain elevator or one of those swimming-pool slides.”

Renowned sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who worked on designs for Mount Rushmore while living in San Antonio, also criticized the way the state chose the designers, saying it was “politics and road contract methods that foredoomed the entire memorial work to failure.”

While the committee laid out its plans Thursday, it is asking for public input in a series of meetings planned for later this month.

Stay tuned.

To see the entire plan click here.

For Randy Beamer's facebook page, click here. For Beamer's twitter page, click here.

Watch Joe Galli's story on Thursday night's presentation below.




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