Leaders of the Battle of Flowers Association, Fiesta Flambeau Parade Association, and the Texas Cavaliers have agreed to changes in the parade routes and other Fiesta events to accommodate a proposed redevelopment of Alamo Plaza, according to officials and agreement documents.
The organizations had opposed proposals to close down South Alamo Street and redirect the annual parades to adjacent streets, but the tide has turned away from the “Save Our Route” petitions as the design has evolved, said Battle of Flowers Association spokesman John Bloodsworth. The Fiesta Commission‘s executive committee signed off on the proposal Thursday.
“There are still some things to consider and things on the table,” Bloodsworth said, “but I think we’re on the right track. … The Battle of Flowers board feels that the City and the state and particularly Councilman [Roberto] Treviño have listened.”
The Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee will vote on the proposed Alamo master plan Thursday night. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers and while public comment session is not scheduled, a public “open house” will start at 6 p.m.
Plans presented in June called for parades to be redirected to either Losoya Street to the west or to Bonham and East Crockett streets via East Houston street.
The most recent plan adjusts the parade re-route via Houston to turn on Crockett and continue to Losoya while providing access to Alamo Plaza at the south gate and establishing a so-called “ceremonial activity zone” there.
The 127-year-old Battle of Flowers parade during Fiesta celebrates the sacrifices made by defenders of the Alamo in the 1836 Battle and commemorates the victory at the Battle of San Jacinto. Each year floats carrying dignitaries and Fiesta royalty pass by the Alamo via South Alamo Street and present fresh floral tributes to young cadets, who deliver them to a patch of grass in front of the church.
The cadets currently have to walk 200 feet to the church; the new route would reduce that to 80 feet. The new proposal also adds more than 90 more seats to the area.
“Not only does it take it a little bit close to the Alamo chapel, it actually takes it in front of the original entrance to the Alamo [at the south gate],” Bloodsworth said.
The Texas Cavaliers hold their annual investiture of King Antonio in front of the Alamo.
An Aug. 23 memorandum of understanding between the Cavaliers and Treviño, who tri-chairs the Alamo Citizen Advisory Committee and is a member of the Alamo Management Committee, calls for the redevelopment plan to maintain the ceremonial zone at the south gate, the delivery of floral arrangements, and schedule accommodations for the Cavaliers to perform the investiture on the first Saturday of Fiesta week.
“I appreciate the passion they have brought to the Alamo project,” Treviño said Thursday about the Fiesta parade organizations. “I find it reassuring, in these divisive times, that we have been able to work together to create a path forward that honors the site and time-honored traditions.”
Meanwhile, a group of restaurant and bar owners along Losoya and a nearby section of the River Walk have sent a letter opposing the plan to turn the now-one way street into a two-way thoroughfare to accommodate the north-south traffic disruption that would result from closing South Alamo Street.
“Losoya Street is currently the major delivery artery for food and beverage suppliers to more than 20 operations on Losoya and the San Antonio River Walk,” states the letter, which is signed by more than 10 business and property owners. “There are also many service companies that use Losoya for linen deliveries, mechanical service and repair, etc.”
Designers propose converting two seven-foot-wide parking lanes and two 11-foot driving lanes into three 12-foot driving lanes on Losoya, with a center turn lane.
“We will be making sure that there’s a service and delivery plan for what might occur with Losoya Street,” Treviño said, and that includes a plan to preserve the trees.
Pape Dawson Engineers has completed a traffic study that suggests the area streets can handle the closure, he said, and it’s possible that Presa Street could also be improved to handle more traffic.
“Much like working with the parade routes, it’s really a matter of designing a solution,” said Treviño, adding that he plans to organize a stakeholder group to work on the issue.
The 29-member citizen group is expected to vote on the redevelopment plan anonymously Thursday night because of concerns that groups opposed to other elements of the plan, such as moving the Alamo Cenotaph, may harass the committee members.
The plan calls to repair and move the statue built to honor the fallen defenders of the Alamo about 500 feet south to a new position outside Alamo Plaza in front of the Menger Hotel. Descendants of those defenders and an activist group, This is Texas Freedom Force, have protested that proposal at public meetings and during rallies at the Cenotaph.
Other groups are against surrounding the plaza with gates or railing. This would dampen the use of the plaza as a living, urban plaza, some have said, and remove the opportunity to host protests and other events in the space.
The plaza will remain free and open to the public 24/7, Treviño has said, and the free speech zone will likely be moved to the new Cenotaph location.
Another key piece of the proposal – what to do with the three historic buildings across from the Alamo and how to incorporate a Smithsonian-caliber museum there – is pending a historical assessment of the buildings, and the request for proposal for that work was released on Monday.
Once the committee makes it recommendation to the Management Committee, that group will vote to recommend elements to the Executive Committee, which comprises Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Both have veto power over the plan.
But City Council has the final say in the matter as it would have to approve handing over the portions of South Alamo and East Houston streets to the State in order to implement the plan. Nirenberg is slated to place that and discussion of the Alamo plan on Council’s agenda this fall.