Texas officials unveiled a nearly $32 million state effort Wednesday to renovate the Alamo and its grounds with the public's help.
Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced the details of the project at the former mission in what is now downtown San Antonio. The Alamo was the site of an 1836 battle that preceded the climactic battle for Texas independence.
"We need to create an environment that tells a story," said state Sen. Jose Menendez, a San Antonio Democrat who joined Bush and more than a dozen other officials at a news conference highlighting the project, which also will use private donations.
Earlier this year, the state Legislature approved a measure that requires the city of San Antonio and the General Land Office of Texas, which Bush heads, to collaborate on developing a master plan for the state-owned Alamo complex and adjacent Alamo Plaza. That law took effect Tuesday.
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Authorities plan an updated museum for Alamo objects and other artifacts. About 200 pieces were donated last year by musician Phil Collins.
San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor confirmed that city officials are working on a master plan for the Alamo and its plaza. Meanwhile, work by stone conservator Ivan Myjer will begin next month to stabilize and study the stone facade of the church, which is more than three centuries old, for potential areas of restoration.
The Alamo was named a World Heritage Site by a UNESCO committee in July, drawing more international attention to the venerable location.
The Land Office has taken over direct management of the Alamo from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, a heritage group that had been its custodian for more than a century.
"We support the improvements to the site and grounds this unprecedented state funding will provide but encourage caution in avoiding over-commercialization and politicizing of the shrine in order to maintain the reverence and respect that are due its defenders and in accordance with the expectations of the people of Texas," Dr. Betty Edwards, president general of the heritage group, said in a statement Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a hearing has been postponed for two weeks -- from Friday until Sept. 17 -- on a restraining order the heritage group obtained last month preserving its access to the Alamo private library and preventing the removal of items from its premises. The group filed suit against Bush and the General Land Office in March, accusing it of unilaterally declaring the state the owner of the group's collection.