State

‘Cenotaph Ain’t Moving,’ George P. Bush, San Antonio Mayor Move Ahead on Alamo Project

After stalling against an immovable object for months, the Alamo renovation plan has changed course and may start creeping forward again.

In a memo to city officials, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg has expressed readiness to begin the project anew.

“Based on my discussions with General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush and our discussions as a council, we are ready to begin working with our Alamo Partners on a modified plan,” Nirenberg wrote.

The mayor told the San Antonio Business Journal he feared the city’s work would “die on the vine” without an altered vision for the project’s progress.

Any significant renovation withered in the bud when the Texas Historical Commission (THC) denied the city’s request for a permit to move the Alamo Ccenotaph, unconvinced that moving the memorial was necessary for repair. Alamo project leadership — notably Texas General Land Office (GLO) Commissioner George P. Bush, city councilman Roberto Treviño, and the City of San Antonio — had made the cenotaph move the plan’s keystone and ruled out all alternatives, leading some donors to drop their support from the project around the time leaders presented an unchanged plan still centered on moving the cenotaph two months after the permit was denied.

Now, with one ousting and one apparent change of heart, project leadership is slowly moving around the monument.

Bush, hitherto a staunch defender of moving the Alamo Ccenotaph, showed a new flexibility during a Texas Senate hearing yesterday when he told the Finance Committee flatly: “Cenotaph ain’t moving.”

Though city officials, Treviño, and former U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX-23) pitched the cenotaph move as a necessary first step of the plan to the THC, Bush acknowledged that the monument plays a small part in the renovations that citizens hope to see.

“The master plan stays the same but for the cenotaph. That’s the only change. The cenotaph really is just one component of the total design,” Bush told the Senate Finance Committee on Monday.

“There are five overarching objectives, one of which will be impacted, and that’s building a museum and visitor center, where the so-called Ripley’s buildings are located. The rest of it moves forward as planned, and I think the most critical part is making sure that the church and long barrack is around for future generations.”

Bush also said the city has allocated around $30 million for the project but could not say how much would go towards repairing the cenotaph, which city officials called dangerously precarious during the September THC hearing.

At the city level, Nirenberg replaced Treviño on the Citizens Advisory Committee with city Ccouncilwoman Rebecca Viagran and removed him from the Alamo Management Committee as well.

“Unfortunately, the position that Councilman Trevino has taken — if the Cenotaph can’t move, then the Alamo plan is dead,” Nirenberg said. “It’s not tenable; it’s not going to move. And so we have to redesign that plan around the reality, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Treviño had envisioned exhibits in the museum that would couch the tale of the siege in a longer span of history and recount the Texas War of Independence in a light more sympathetic to the Mexican side of the story.

During a January podcast, Treviño blamed the THC for stalling the plan and said Lt. Governor Dan Patrick “has thrown a wrench in this project” by discouraging the cenotaph move.

“This got stuck at the Texas Historical Commission when John Nau wanted to redesign a portion of the project,” Treviño said, referencing Nau’s reluctance to relocate the monument.

In a statement, Treviño expressed disappointment at his removal from the committees and said the city should abandon cooperation with the state to “pursue a scaled-down project in our own best interest.”

“The Alamo Master Plan that provided guidance for the complete telling of the Alamo site’s history has now suffered a common fate typical of opportunities of inclusivity,” Treviño wrote.

“We have lost a tremendous opportunity with unraveling of this project. In the meantime, we cannot abdicate our principles and responsibility to the community we serve to pursue a project that no longer serves our best interest, but the best interest of the State.”

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