AP NEWS

Approve Beacon Hill agreement

March 6, 2019

As an architect, Roberto Treviño wears his love for old buildings on his sleeve. But that love crashed into political reality for the District 1 city councilman with the old Beacon Hill Elementary School.

The building on West Ashby Place dates back to 1915. It is dilapidated, having been vacant for years. For some time, San Antonio Independent School District officials have wanted to tear it down to give students at Beacon Hill Academy more space outside. There are also safety concerns about falling debris. Parents of students at the school and residents of the Beacon Hill neighborhood have called for the building to go.

Treviño, though, encouraged people to think of what the building could be again and what it once was. The city’s Historic and Design Review Commission was with him last year, recommending in November a historic landmark designation for the school. Such an action would be an obstacle for demolition.

In general, we would prefer to see old buildings restored than architectural history torn down. But in this case, the building was obsolete, SAISD is a cash-strapped district with no desire to renovate the building, and parents and many people in the surrounding neighborhood wanted the old building to go. Maybe not all. But more than enough.

These are all reasons why Treviño has done the right thing with a proposal to link a demolition permit with heritage preservation curriculum at the district, as well as visual documentation of the building and a corresponding historical inventory. Such an agreement would allow the district and surrounding community to move forward while also deepening historic appreciation and understanding. Council should approve the measure.

It’s not the outcome Treviño initially wanted, but it’s the right compromise for the community, district and city.