Alamo Trust Inc, Annual Board of Directors Meeting at 300 Alamo Plaza, Alamo Hall on June 18, 2019
Board members of the Alamo Trust hold an annual meeting Tuesday. Credit: Stephanie Marquez / San Antonio Report

Board members of the Alamo Trust, the nonprofit corporation overseeing daily operations at the Alamo, unanimously approved an organizational restructuring that will give it more flexibility to advance the Alamo master plan and redevelopment of Alamo Plaza.

“This board meeting today marks a real tipping point,” board member Gene Powell said. “It’s going to start a waterfall of information and activity [such as] contracting. A lot of things will start to happen now.”

Alamo Trust and the General Land Office (GLO), which oversees Alamo Trust, are moving forward with a memorandum of understanding covering contractual terms for the architectural firms designing the planned museum and visitor center. Alamo officials recently hired Dallas firm HKS Architects and Boston-based company Machado Silvetti to design the facilities.

Alamo Trust CEO Doug McDonald said both companies have much design experience in San Antonio and around Texas, and have a solid understanding of what Alamo officials hope to achieve with the makeover of Alamo Plaza.

“We feel this is a great team to take us to the next stage of what we’re doing in this process,” McDonald said.

The memorandum of understanding also will guide how Alamo Trust and the Remember the Alamo Foundation, the nonprofit formed to support the Alamo Endowment, can proceed with fundraising for the museum facility.

Alamo Trust and GLO are also reworking their 3-year-old Alamo management services contract “that really incentivizes Alamo Trust to earn more revenue and to be more entrepreneurial,” McDonald said.

Additionally, there will be a change in bylaws governing the six-member Alamo Trust board, which will have the ability appoint or remove its members. In the past, the Texas Land Commissioner, who heads GLO, had the power to nominate or remove board members for Alamo organizations.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush resigned from the Alamo Trust board last year amid concerns that GLO was mishandling Alamo redevelopment plans and that the agency was not being transparent enough about those plans. McDonald said recent talks among Alamo stakeholders resulted in a consensus that “there needed to be a little bit more autonomy on the part of [Alamo] corporations and the [Land] Commissioner agreed with that.”

The GLO still will have the authority to appoint a non-voting advisory member to the Alamo Trust board. Other changes in the bylaws will allow the Alamo Trust board to create an executive committee in the future, when board membership expands.

The Alamo Trust board also will be able to appoint and remove members of the Remember the Alamo Foundation board.

Meanwhile, Alamo Trust recently created the Alamo Mission Archeological Advisory Committee, a panel comprised of representatives of Native American tribes that have a historical interest in the Alamo area.

“They’ve been active and have been giving us really good guidance around the [redevelopment] process,” McDonald said. “And they’re making the decision on how we move forward on this to make sure we are sensitive to any findings or any part of the archaeology on the site.”

McDonald said Tuesday’s board meeting and restructuring represent a major step toward growing Alamo Trust and improving its ability to carry out the Alamo master plan and other initiatives meant to preserve and promote the landmark.

“We’re building a professional institution,” he said. “We’re going to be better in communications. We’ll be doing the marketing. We’ll be doing the fundraising – all the things that normal nonprofits do.”

Alamo Trust board member B.J. “Red” McCombs said controversies surrounding Alamo Trust and the Alamo master plan have died down. He agreed that Alamo Trust should focus on strengthening its organization and better engaging the public about the future of the Alamo.

“There’s a huge amount of goodwill on this board,” said McCombs, who participated in the meeting via teleconference.

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Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.