State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson says the state, not the city, is better positioned to make the types of changes that he says need to be made to create a world class tourist destination at Alamo Plaza, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"Categorically, the state is better situated to do all of the things that need to be done than is the city," Patterson told 1200 WOAI news following his appearance at the Second Annual Hispanic Heritage Luncheon, sponsored by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Patterson points out that the Texas General Land Office currently operates the Alamo itself, following a decision of the Legislature in 2011, and it would make sense to have one entity responsible for both the Alamo and Alamo Plaza.
And Patterson says the redesigned Alamo Plaza should be far larger and look far different than the Alamo Plaza where Fiesta begins today.
"If you were inside looking inward, you might not know that you were in a large urban area," he said of his vision for Alamo Plaza, which would include a substantially larger footprint to recreate as much as possible the appearance of the Alamo in 1836. He says streets should be closed, and existing buildings may have to be demolished to lead to the sort of visitor experience which an iconic structure like the Alamo deserves.
"Not only just a visitor experience recreationally, but an experience where visitors come away, no matter where they're from, with a better knowledge of what happened there and why that's important."
Patterson discussed expanded museums tracing the life of Mission San Antonio de Valero dating back to 1836, living history re-enactors, and a feeling that a visitor can experience the entire sweep of Texas history at the Alamo.
The City of San Antonio is in the process of discussing making its own renovations to Alamo Plaza, but critics have openly questioned whether today's relatively weak City Council has the stomach to make the major types of changes that Patterson is talking about, including demolishing large numbers of existing structures. In addition, Patterson says the state more than the city has the resources needed to truly transform Alamo Plaza.
Some good news for San Antonio as it fights to regain control over Alamo Plaza. Patterson will be leaving the Land Commissioners' job at the end of the year, and he openly admitted that some of these major decisions will be up to his successor, most likely Republican George P. Bush.