Over the past couple of years, big changes have been set in motion at the Alamo. Eerily similar to the issues at Fair Park, many have questioned how the Alamo has been used, who has been using it, and what role does it play in Downtown San Antonio, or in telling the rich history of Texas. One of the most dramatic differences is in planning. Yesterday, the San Antonio City Council received their first briefing from the newly retained master planning team. You can see a pdf of the report here. It's an interesting brief that does a good job of recognizing the wide range of issues in play while staying focused on the most important issue, its history. I particularly like that they make it perfectly clear that preservation of the buildings and proper interpretation of the site's history is paramount and that they have displayed their knowledge of the appropriate treatments of them.
However, in greater contrast to what has been done for Fair Park is the scope of the master plan itself. The Alamo plan has several important features that one would assume would be essential for a site with such great importance both locally and nationally.
It addresses not just the current site, but all areas with physical relevance; the historic fort and mission grounds, its relation to downtown and even its relation to the other Spanish missions. Fair Park's so-called plans, including the Mayor's task force report, the DiMambro Plan or the ideas from the Center for Community Empowerment that are currently saturating social media, are focused only on the Park itself and not on the needs of the surrounding neighborhood.
It is transparent. There is much public discussion and the community is kept appraised from the very outset. In Dallas, I can more readily find information on the Alamo, its planning progress and its organizational structure than I can on Fair Park, which is the victim of a new surprise plan or report every few weeks.
It is the result of cooperation between the major stake holders, the State of Texas, the City of San Antonio and other organizations.
It's taking the time necessary to thoughtfully consider its goals. They anticipate the final report in one year.
Awaiting the final master plan has not shut down efforts to make critically needed repairs and changes. The General Land Office is currently in the middle of $5 million in emergency-level repairs and changes.
I wish I could say all of the above for Fair Park. Perhaps there is still a chance we can stop second-guessing one another and put in place a well thought out process to take Fair Park into the next 80 years and beyond. I will attempt to cover in a subsequent post the important differences in management organization and fund raising.