Bexar Co. pursues World Heritage designation from UN; controversy sparks


by Joe Conger / KENS 5

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 10:05 PM

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- There are defenders of the Alamo--this time online, fighting a current Internet rumor that San Antonio is ready to hand over its famous landmark to the United Nations, as part of a "New World Order."

"There's enough conflict in the world. I don't think there's going to ever be one world government," Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said. Wolff brushed aside concerns the United Nations will take over the Texas mission.

Rumors that the U.N., through its subsidiary UNESCO, would manage the Alamo began circulating earlier this week, overwhelming even KENS 5's inbox.

The truth is, according to county leaders, Bexar County has only asked UNESCO to consider the Alamo and its four sister missions along the San Antonio River for World Heritage Site designations. See the county's executive summary about its World Heritage Site application here.

"Hopefully we will get it; there are hundreds of them around the world," Wolff said.

A decision from UNESCO is expected in 2015.

The custodian of the Alamo, the Texas General Land Office, called the rumors of a U.N. takeover “spectacular...erroneous... and 'horse hockey.'"

KENS 5 asked if locals would see any meddling from the U.N., or if the organization would have a stake in the day-to-day operations of the facilities.

"No. The only thing that they would ask is that you take care of the treasure, like we have, and you do nothing to denigrate it," Wolff replied.

Wolff said the recognition from UNESCO would bring tourism to the River City, and nothing more.

Experts estimate the designation would bring an extra $100 million per year to the local economy from international visitors, as well as provide the missions with access to historians and preservationists from around the world.

"You do have to meet some standards to get that designation. And we think the five missions here in San Antonio will meet those standards," Wolff explained.

With the UNESCO designation comes some UN requirements affecting boundaries around historic structures, buffer zones, and land use around them.

Wolff admits, since seeking heritage status, city leaders have nixed at least one nearby development.

"They wouldn't build that big hotel that would cover up the Alamo, for that reason," Wolff said.

Wolff admits it is that kind of governmental 'interference' that has social media abuzz.