Amid disruptions and expulsions, Alamo plan moves forward

by Paula SchulerAugust 31, 2018

Roughly 200 people listened in on — and often times interrupted — the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee meeting tonight at City Council chambers, as the 29-member committee approved a version of the Alamo interpretive plan that includes relocating the Cenotaph memorial, rerouting the Battle of Flowers Parade, and enclosing the plaza, which will be accessed by one primary entrance.

As District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño moved through welcoming remarks, he received the first disruption of the evening from a crowd mostly opposed to moving the Cenotaph about 500 feet south to a spot in front of the Menger Hotel. Assertively, he told the crowd, many of whom held signs of protestation, that outbursts wouldn’t be tolerated inside City Council chambers and that police would eject anyone who further disrupted the meeting.

Overall, the citizens committee, which began meeting in 2014, passed seven resolutions after comments from tri-chairs Treviño, Sue Ann Pemberton and Lionel Sosa. Only committee member Ann McGlone, an architect, spoke her mind as Treviño moved through the resolutions, sharing her concerns over an assessment process of the Crockett, Palace and Woolworth buildings that are being eyed for a museum. On this issue, 96 percent of committee members voted in favor, while 4 percent voted in opposition.

The resolution that received the most pushback was one that would recreate the 1836 Alamo compound footprint by enclosing it with barriers and funneling visitors into one main entrance at the Crockett building — 92 percent voted in support, while 8 percent opposed the measure.

The resolutions to close portions of Alamo, Houston and Crockett streets, and to change the Battle of Flowers Parade route passed quietly and unanimously.

The resolution to move the Cenotaph passed unanimously, stirring protesters’ passions, and there began the expulsions.

The final two resolutions — the site plan and framework, and a master lease agreement that would hand over control of city-owned plaza property to the state’s General Land Office — passed unanimously.

Brandon Burkhart, president of This is Texas Freedom Force, the most vocal group that's opposed the relocating of the Cenotaph, was the first of a handful of citizens escorted out of City Council chambers by police officers for interrupting the meeting.

"We're staying in the fight," Burkhart said after the meeting outside the building. "We have a few things that we've got lined up."

He declined to elaborate.

He added, "We're Texans and the word 'quit' is not in our blood line nor our vocabulary. And we are going to stay with this the entire way, and we are going to raise as much hell, and when the day comes, we're going to go after Treviño and we're going to go after (Mayor Ron) Nirenberg, and anyone who votes 'yes,' we will go after them."

In attendance was a small cadre of members of the San Antonio Conservation Society, which opposes several aspects of the plan. But their main concern is saving as much of the Crockett, Palace and Woolworth buildings as possible.

“We don’t need a new building for a museum,” society board member Mary Fisher said, adding that there are buildings all over the world that are repurposed for museums.

The buildings “ demonstrate the evolution of Alamo Plaza,” “Saving San Antonio” author Lewis F. Fisher said. “They have true historical and architectural significance.”

Holding up the posters he collected from the event, he said, “I think I’m gonna put some of this stuff on eBay. There are Alamo fans all across the country.”

Not all of the signs protested the plan. San Antonio artist Kathy Sosa, wife of tri-chair Lionel Sosa, made red signs with white letters that said, “Keep Calm y Join Manos.”

“I am very encouraged by the ability of my neighbors to work together,” she said after the meeting. She also gave T-shirts to the committee members out of appreciation of their work.

Featured photo by V. Finster | San Antonio Heron: Keri Killyer, director of research for This is Texas Freedom Force, is escorted out of the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee Thursday night at City Council chambers.

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