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Corridor Would Destroy one of Texas’ Oldest Homes
Bexar County family works to protect a piece of history from the bulldozer
By Jim Forsyth
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Analiese Kunert’s home in southeast Bexar County was built in 1798 by the de la Garza family, shortly after receiving a grant of land from the king of Spain. With rustic rock construction and gleaming original pine floors, it is one of the oldest continuously occupied private homes in Texas.
And if Governor Rick Perry has his way, that wood floored living room, so lovingly crafted by Spanish artisans, will be right in the middle of the fast lane of the Trans Texas Corridor, the $181 billion complex of toll roads, rail lines, and gas and oil transmission pipes that Perry has planned to criss cross the entire state.
<"Everything is hand laid stone, the walls are about eighteen inches thick," Kunert says, proudly ticking off the 18th Century attributes which make her home a true Texas treasure. "It's all original flooring, lots of exposed beams, two huge fireplaces." Analiese and her husband have worked for years to restore this amazing property, which stands just southeast of Loop 1604 in Elmendorf Lavernia Road. And she says it came to a complete shock to her to learn that it was standing right smack in the middle of progress. "Amazingly, I have never gotten any official notification. It's all word of mouth. I couldn't believe that the people who its affecting the most didn't even know. There's a lot of landowners out here, and a lot of history that's going to be destroyed." Like many toll road opponents, Kunert is perhaps most concerned with the fact that all the words spoken at all the public hearings about the Corridor and other toll roads don't seem to be heard. "That's one of the major concerns, that they're not hearing us. The other concern is that the public in general does not even know that this is happening. You can go to the north side (of San Antonio, where the Trans Texas Corridor would not destroy any homes) I would ask 25 people at random, and nobody would even know what the Trans Texas Corridor is. I think that's really sad. As Kunert walks around the historic thirty acres of land she and her husband own, land once grazed by the cattle which fed the missions, tamed by the vaqueros and which provided milk for the armies of Bustamante and Santa Anna, she reflects on the fact that its future may be to provide a right of way, an on ramp, or a service station turn around. She says she will fight to get the route changed, but realizes that if her home is spared, that will just mean that somebody else's home, which is just as valuable to them as her home is to her, will fall victim to the controversial project. "I would like to see this project eliminated entirely," she sighs. "That may be something that cannot happen at this point. Maybe they can find a route that doesn't effect so many homeowners and property owners. I think that would be a good idea." The Texas Department of Transportation says the Corridor is the best way to deal with growing highway congestion which threatens to crimp Texas' strong economic growth. And it says no final route for the corridor has been determined. Kunert and her neighbors find it ironic, to say the least, that the head of the company which would lead the consortium that would build the Corridor, Grupo Ferrovial and its subsidiary Cintra, are Spanish companies, possibly staffed by the descendants of the same Spanish pioneers who built her home and settled her ranch. "Texas worked so hard, and so many lives were lost so many years ago to make this a part of Texas and not Spain. It looks like Spain had alternate plans. It looks like they're getting back in."