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Alamo plan honors the past, plans for the future

September 23, 2018

My name is Forrest Byas, and I am a descendant of Alamo defender Andrew Kent. Kent answered the call to defend Texas many times, beginning with the Battle of Gonzales and ending at the Alamo.

He was one of just 32 men who answered Col. William B. Travis’ call for reinforcements at the mission turned fortress. He arrived as one of the Immortal 32 on March 1 and gave his life in the battle on March 6, 1836.

Because of this family history, and the fact that I am both a fifth-generation Texan and a military veteran, what happens at the Alamo means a great deal to me. I have long wanted to see it treated with the respect and reverence it is due.

I joined the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee in 2017 to have some input on the Alamo’s future.

I have followed and spoken out in favor of the ongoing plan to restore and protect the Alamo. I support the plan to reclaim its historic footprint and restore reverence, and I also support building the museum the Alamo has always deserved but does not have.

This is a good plan. It’s our one chance to do right by the Alamo. The devil is in the details, as I tend to say, but now we have gone from ideas to details.

The plan unveiled by the Alamo Master Plan Management Committee does so much good for the Alamo, for San Antonio and Texas. For Texas, the Alamo is finally one site, managed by the state for the people of Texas, with its historic outlines clear and prominent. It builds several key moments from the battle, including the famed 18-pounder cannon ramp on the southwest corner.

For San Antonio, the Alamo remains an open place while distractions are moved off the battlefield compound. The Alamo is still the heart of our city life, but the plan improves it. There will be shade, a safer path to the Alamo, and a far more beautiful and peaceful site.

The Cenotaph, which the city owns, is repaired and moved to a place of honor where it will set the tone for everyone who approaches the Alamo from its southern side. This was an idea I brought to the Alamo plan discussions, so I am pleased to see it in the new proposal.

Parade routes, which are so important to our city, will still go in front of the iconic Alamo church.

For the Alamo, the plan saves it from threats, including rising damp and the possible damage from traffic on what is now Alamo Street. It will be given the honor its 300-year history is due.

A state-of-the-art museum will tell its complete story bigger and better than ever before. Its historic footprint can become a spectacular outdoor museum with living history. The Alamo will no longer be seen by many visitors as small. The plan makes the Alamo as grand as its story — the world’s largest exhibit dedicated to the battle and the Texas Revolution. I cannot wait to see this happen.

We’re now at a crossroads on this once-in-a-lifetime plan. It does not give anyone everything they want, but it achieves a lot within very difficult and often contradictory limits.

The mayor and City Council will soon take up this plan and vote to move it forward by closing Alamo Street from Commerce to Houston streets and convey management of it and Alamo Plaza to the state. This is a big decision.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg has recently made strong statements supporting this. He and the City Council should approve both closing the street and conveying the plaza because the Alamo deserves not to have traffic roll right across its historic footprint. The Alamo deserves to be one unified place we will all be proud of.

Forrest Byas of San Antonio is a descendant of one of the Alamo fallen and a member of the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee.

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