- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - The lead expert in the development of a long-term master plan for the Alamo says a first-rate overhaul will require years of study and fundraising.

The San Antonio Express-News (https://bit.ly/29ia5nE ) reports that George Skarmeas, design director with Preservation Design Partnership of Philadelphia, said a careful examination of the Alamo area, through documentation and archaeological work, will guide a project that could have construction starting in 2021 and a “soft opening” in 2024.

“We need to understand what is under our feet,” Skarmeas told City Council members Wednesday.

A team of experts will begin a “systematic archaeological study” of the area next week to pinpoint the location of exterior portions of the 1836 battle compound where nearly 200 people died during a 13-day siege by Mexican troops.

Ground-penetrating radar and digs “in targeted locations” will be used, Skarmeas said.

“This is one of the most complicated sites in the world. And in that complication lies all kinds of opportunities,” said Gene Powell, a board member of the nonprofit Alamo Endowment, which is working with the city and Texas General Land Office to develop the master plan, set for completion and adoption in about a year.

Archaeologists will provide daily morning briefings for Alamo visitors on their work. And, Powell says, those briefings will be posted online.

Experts are working to expand the Alamo experience beyond the state-owned 4.2-acre complex. The plan is likely to include a vision for a modern visitor center, and recommendations on public art, pedestrian access and other area upgrades.

Aside from about $42 million already committed by the city and state for Alamo improvements, the endowment has said it may privately try to raise hundreds of millions more for projects identified in the plan.

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Online: ReimagineTheAlamo.org

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Information from: San Antonio Express-News, https://www.mysanantonio.com

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