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Bexar County Congressmen Introduce Mission Expansion Bill

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Eileen Pace

As the Texas legislature takes up the possibility of forming a commission to look at what it would take to transform the area around the Alamo, U.S. congressional leaders are also making strides toward the future integrity of the Missions.

State Rep. Mike Villarreal is attempting to create the Alamo Museum District Commission, a group that would study how to honor the Alamo as a national treasure.

As for the Missions, the Bexar County congressional delegation in congress - which includes the bipartisan support of Democrats Lloyd Doggett, Joaquín Castro, Henry Cuellar and Pete Gallego, and Republican Lamar Smith - has introduced the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park Boundary Expansion Act.

The bill would expand the parks by about 137 acres near Missions San Jose, San Juan, and Espada.

These areas preserve the largest Spanish colonial resource collection in the nation and serve as an education, historical and cultural center for the one million visitors that tour them every year.

Last week at the San Antonio City Council meeting, District 6 Councilman Ray Lopez told intergovernmental relations director Jeff Coyle he'd like the Missions to be included in the proposed state bill that looks at how to preserve the Alamo.

"At some point, when we get World Heritage designation, I don't think it's a matter of if, I think it's a matter of when. Whatever we do relative to the Alamo should really be consistent across all of those. I think it'll probably be a requirement from the World Heritage folks," Lopez said.

The Mission expansion bill will have to be heard in the House Natural Resources Committee first, which those close to the matter say is the first challenge in passing it.