By Morgan Montalvo
The Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee on Thursday evening approved a comprehensive – and controversial – redesign plan for the historic mission and surrounding grounds, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Inside City Council Chambers, where committee members addressed remaining concerns immediately prior to the vote, a near-full spectators’ section was about evenly divided between supporters and opponents of the multi-part proposal.
The voting was punctuated by shouts from demonstrators opposed to moving the cenotaph, a memorial to the Alamo defenders, which has served as a lightning rod for groups that include native Americans, descendants of Texian militiamen who fought at the Alamo or other battles for independence from Mexico, and history “purists:” who prefer a status quo for the site, known to many as “The Cradle of Texas Liberty.”
One part of the proposal involves moving the cenotaph about 500 feet south from its present location directly in front of the Alamo, but still on adjacent Alamo Plaza.
Place 1 City Councilman Roberto Trevino chairs the committee. Following the meeting, he told News Radio 1200 WOAI that a restored and expanded Alamo complex will offer citizens on all sides of the issue reasons to be proud.
“It’s about revealing every bit of the history of the Alamo, from the indigenous period, the mission era, to the secularization, the Battle of the Alamo, and beyond,” Trevino said.
Protesters who gathered outside after the vote say they find little reassurance in Trevino’s words.
“It’s a sham, it’s a scam, and it’s a bunch of lies, all rolled into one,” demonstrator Paul Gescheidle said. “They got what they wanted, 100 percent on all of every issue that’s been an issue; are you kidding me?
“A hundred percent across the board, after months of being here and speaking out?” he asked.
Gescheidle was one of about a half-dozen protesters escorted out by police after Trevino issued repeated warnings to opponents about disruptions.
Opponents of moving the cenotaph say they’ll continue to attend future meetings and solicit support from state-level elected officials for their position.
One thing that helped push the plan over the top was the support of the Fiesta Commission, which had been concerned that the closure of Alamo Street would derail the Battle of Flowers Parade, which exists to honor the defenders of the Alamo, and always involves a wreath laying and other ceremony at the Alamo.
"The alternative route for the Fiesta parades will pass by the original entrance to the Alamo along the Crockett Street right of way," the Commission said in a statement.
"The non-historic stone wall around the Alamo Gardens, and the arcade that leads to the chapel will be removed to enable clear views of the Alamo chapel from the parade route."
Trevino says the plan as voted on now goes to city and state officials for review and approval.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg then will decide when to place the item on City Council’s agenda for consideration and a vote, which could happen before the end of 2018.
The plan was endorsed by Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, whose office owns the Alamo.
"Today's vote by the Citizens Advisory Committee is an encouraging step forward in our effort to preserve and restore the Alamo and its battleground for generations of Texans to come," Bush said. "There is no greater defining symbol of Texas than the Alamo. The Alamo plan protects the sacred ground and reclaims history lost to the ages. I look forward to the Alamo Management Committee now voting to advance this plan to restore the Alamo to its former glory."
PHOTO: Protester Paul Gescheidle storms out of City Council chambers steps ahead of police after shouting his opposition to Thursday evening's vote by the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee to adopt a redesign plan for the historic site and surrounding area that includes relocating the cenotaph, a monument to the Alamo defenders. Photo by Morgan Montalvo