San Antonio is teaming up with state officials to create a master plan for a makeover of the Alamo and its surrounding plaza, hoping a major face-lift can again make the iconic site worthy of its "Remember the Alamo" rallying cry.
Land Commissioner George P. Bush said Friday that planning will take a year, with recommendations ready perhaps by 2016. San Antonio will contribute $1 million to the planning process through an existing bond program, and Bush's agency will cover any additional costs. But it remains unclear where the massive amount of state funding needed for any proposed revamp will come from.
The plan will focus on revamping the Alamo as part of a larger look of the surrounding grounds. The project comes after state reports in recent years detailed some disrepair, including cracked, leaky roofs and rising damp on the walls. Last month, Texas ended its contract with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, which had overseen the Alamo since 1905. The group has since sued for control of more than 30,000 books and artifacts at its library.
The downtown San Antonio shrine is the site of an 1836 battle in which 180 Texas defenders were killed during a siege by Mexican forces. Weeks later, those deaths provided Texas soldiers with the "Remember the Alamo!" mantra, which they carried to victory at the Battle of San Jacinto. That battle clinched Texas' independence from Mexico.
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"This alliance is long overdue and also very encouraging for all of us who treasure the Alamo," Bush said in a statement. "Together we will create a strategic vision and work toward our common goal of restoring the Shrine of Texas Liberty to a site worthy of its noble roots."
Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush and son of potential 2016 White House candidate Jeb Bush, was elected land commissioner in November, but already has overseen swift-moving changes at the Alamo. His agency also administers Texas' vast holdings of public lands and mineral resources.
San Antonio state Sen. Jose Menendez has proposed a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide whether to spend $250 million in state funds to improve the Alamo plaza. But it's unclear if that will pass the Legislature to ever make it to the ballot.
"We must create an educational experience where visitors leave inspired by the storied history and sacrifices the Alamo represents," Menendez said in a statement Friday.