Annice Hill and her husband of 45 years, Keith, used to live in a gated community where they did not even know their neighbors.  Having just completed a house remodel, Keith came home one day and announced he would like to live a more urban lifestyle like walking or biking to a restaurant.  Stunned at first, Annice thought, why not!  Their search led them to King William in 2009.  Within a short amount of time of moving into the St. Benedict’s Lofts, they joined the association as a way to keep up with happenings in the neighborhood and to meet their neighbors.  

Some of you may have heard about a bar or restaurant that is planned for the windowless law offices at the corner of Madison and St. Mary’s (803 S. St. Mary’s). The King William Association has protested the issuance of a Mixed Beverage and Late Hours permit by TABC for the property. The neighbors of the proposed business and representatives of the KWA held a meeting on May 26 to discuss the plan and neighbors’ concerns. 

If there were a First Couple of King William, Roselyn and Bill Cogburn would definitely be prime candidates for the title.  Since that title does not exist, we are shining a very inadequate light on them by recognizing them this month.  Since choosing this neighborhood as their own, they have worked tirelessly to make King William a better place to live.  In quickly reviewing the formal jobs they have done to promote, assist and improve our Association, there appear to be very few things that have not been done by one or both of them during the 25 years they have lived here:  newsletter author, publisher and distribution chief; Home Tour chair; chief of various Fair areas, membership chair; Director, Officer of the KWA; general support and “what needs to be done” chair. 

I'm experiencing what all my neighbors are apparently experiencing.  All of our little envelopes from the county’s Tax Assessor’s Office have been found to contain explosive material – a surprise jump in property valuations by an almost unfathomable margin.  My next door neighbors have discovered that their house has jumped in value by 250% since their last tax bill.  In my case it’s a mere 200%.  If there is a saving grace it is that only the “improvements,” that is, the house and carriage house, have escalated in value; the land is still assessed at the same rate.  Dirt is dirt, I presume.  

As Michael Guarino mentions in his column on page 5, last year the City’s Office of Historic Preservation commissioned Donovan Rypkema, principal of PlaceEconomics*, to create a report on the value of historic preservation in San Antonio.  Historic Preservation: Essential to the Economy and Quality of Life in San Antonio was released last February.  

The report used the SA2020 framework to examine the role of historic preservation in relation to the goals of the 11 “cause areas” that were established in that community process.  Cause areas include Arts & Culture, Education, Downtown Development, Family Well Being and Transportation.  

Rose Kanusky and her husband, Joe Sheldon, moved into the King William neighborhood in 1997.  Rose is a committed volunteer who currently chairs the Transportation/Parking Committee for the KWA.  She served as Chair of the King William Fair in 2009, 2008, 2007, and as Assistant Chair 2006.  She has also headed up the Beverage Department, served on the Finance Committee, written articles for the newsletter, and still volunteers for the Fair each year.  While Fair Chair, Rose worked year-round with an immense time commitment, in addition to her successful career as an attorney at Norton Rose Fulbright.  She has always gone above and beyond the normal responsibilities of her volunteer role, including visits to other festivals and fairs to do research, always with an eye out for how the King William Fair can improve its operations.
Rose prepared the way for her successors to manage a successful and prosperous Fair by creating the first operations manual for the 40-year-old event.  She spearheaded the efforts that enabled the KWA to hire and put in place the first year-round staff position, creating a more professional and better-organized Fair.

Since the inception of the King William Association Grant Program in 2001, KWA has donated over $500,000 to 50 neighborhood nonprofit organizations for a wide variety of projects.  The source of this funding is our annual King William Fair.  In the early years of the program, KWA helped Bonham Academy library, Brackenridge HS band, Page Middle School and SAY Si.  We continue to help these fine organizations plus others such as ArtSmart, Jump-Start, Magik Theatre and The Cannoli Fund.  The outcome of our generosity is making a significant difference in our lives and the lives of our children and our pets.

Grant Application

The application is a reflection of the Grant Program structure.  The applicant completes the form to prove their nonprofit status, identify their Board of Directors, provide their annual budget, and contact information, and, if applicable, provide a letter signed by the school principal agreeing to host their project.  The project narrative needs to convince the reader the project will achieve its goal by describing the experience, training, tools and talent available for the project.  The narrative also needs to provide evidence of a strong connection between the organization and the KWA Charter; i.e., “preserve and promote.”  

On March 24, about a dozen of your neighbors enjoyed a free Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum tour offered to KWA members only.  We were greeted enthusiastically by Development Manager Elaine Leahy.  After a nice aperitif of wine, beer and other refreshing beverages, Elaine led us through the exhibit Back from Berlin, featuring works from local artists Ricky Armendariz, Cathy Cunningham-Little, Karen Mahaffy and Vincent Valdez.  These four are the first to participate in the Blue Star’s Berlin Residency Program.  Blue Star is the sole U.S. partner of the renowned Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin – and the only American artists participating each year in this prestigious program are Bexar County artists!  

I’ve seen a pair of new silhouettes in the sky above my pecan trees lately, two hawks who’ve found a new hunting ground.  One is larger than the other, if not a mature and immature male, they could be a mated pair.  In the world of hawkdom the females are larger than the males.  They are probably red tail hawks, the most common in the U.S., and distributed coast to coast. There are several subspecies but they all have very similar looks.  My Tennessee grandmother would have called them by their more familiar name, chicken hawks. 

Joe and Mary Helen Mansbach have volunteered for the KW Fair for over two decades. They have worked Kid’s Kingdom, the parade and currently (for the past nine years) co-chaired Compliance. Compliance ensures that booths are set up correctly. On Fair Day, the Mansbachs jump in where needed, quietly and efficiently getting tasks done to help ensure the Fair operates smoothly. Their volunteer efforts don’t stop there. Over the years the Mansbachs have labeled newsletters, attended Basura Bash, organized graffiti wipe out events plus hosted many National Night Out events on Mission Street to get neighbors to meet each other. Behind the scenes, they assist with the setup and cleanup for our socials, always willing to pitch in a helping hand.

During the 2012 budget process, the KWA finance committee recommended budgeting an additional $25,000 for sidewalks with the intent that the new Executive Director (ED) would work with the City to get new sidewalks on one complete block. The KWA Board approved the sidewalk budget and asked the ED to accomplish this task.

The ED obtained two sidewalk inventories, one form the City Public Works Department and one from the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization). The inventories classified sidewalk conditions. KWA Sidewalk Program Chair Fred Pfieffer, and his wife Maria, personally walked all the sidewalks categorized as “not present, impassable and limited damage,” and prioritized five locations spread throughout the KWA’s boundaries. In the interim, the ED began conversations with Councilman Bernal explaining that KWA wanted to team with the City to get a complete block of sidewalks repaired. Bernal was interested in our concept, and in finding a way to have the City use smaller contractors to reduce City construction cost while boosting employment opportunities for small businesses.

Since its founding in 2008, Blue Star’s MOSAIC program has helped develop high school students from across San Antonio into professional artists. The students commit to a year-round program, with some of them working in the MOSAIC studio after school and during the summers every day for multiple years. Led by renowned mentor Alex Rubio, the artist-students build their studio skills as they build portfolios for college applications, participate in gallery exhibitions, mentor younger students, and network with patrons and art collectors. The low student to teacher ratio ensures an intensive, focused arts education. Thanks to the support of our community partners, MOSAIC remains an entirely free resource for the students.

The calendar seems to have lost its moorings and drifted into spring at mid-winter. The paperwhites peeking out between the pickets of the front fence appear to be looking for an all-clear signal to lead the revival of the cold-induced brown landscape.

The breeze is stirring the faded fall leaves that are still captive to the lashings of the jasmine beds, but their jade color is deepening in to a richer shade. It will be a month of tangled hair and flipped lapels but the feel of it is wonderful, like a caress.

The downtown grocery store public improvements are almost complete. Phase II traffic signal installations have been completed at Arsenal and Flores; Flores and Whitely; Cesar Chavez and Flores; and Cesar Chavez and Dwyer. There has been a change to the original scope of work for this phase. The signal and the pedestrian crossing at S. Main Ave. and Cesar Chavez will remain for safety reasons, since H-E-B owns additional parking on the northeastern portion of the intersection of S. Main and Cesar Chavez.

The weather was predicted to be damp and drab but we woke to beautiful temperatures and a bright, sunny sky. What a grand day for a tour! We had such a good time showing our homes and the neighborhood to all those who came. I love the look of people as they enter our homes heads tilted back, eyes all curious about what they are going to see and their rapt interest in the information being conveyed by the docent. But my favorite view was Nico, age 12, at the front door of my house being co-docent with his grandmother Erin Strauss - a perfect picture of what our neighborhood strives to be.

Students Together Achieving Revitalization (STAR) is a program organized in the City’s Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) in partnership with the University of Texas at San Antonio. Graduate and undergraduate architecture and construction students from UTSA and San Antonio College learn from local contractors how to repair windows and screens, replace rotted wood of siding and porches and do exterior painting. This is a free service provided to property owners chosen by an application process.

I was rummaging in my massively disorganized bookcases and a battered sketchbook fell out, and opened, on the floor. It was the sketchbook I carried as a 21 year old art history student at the University of Siena. The page was dated February 22, the day of Carnevale, the Italian answer to Mardi Gras. On that long-ago night I was at the art student’s ball at the Palazzo Chigi-Saracini, the seat of Siena’s famous music school. I’d been trying to catch the eye of a reddish-blonde with almond shaped green eyes, to little avail. Most of the crowd was in the Palazzo’s grand ballroom, a rococo confection of crème and gilt plaster swirls and mirrored doors catching the flickering light of its enormous chandeliers. In the courtyard just outside was a clock on a tall platform, about to play its part in the evening’s ritual of turning its hands back from midnight to postpone the arrival of the first day of Lent.

What a noisy neighborhood we live in. Some are noises over which we have no control: trains, helicopters, police and fire sirens, the flour mill and protective dogs. Other noises are those produced by residents and the people they employ. Foremost in this category: the new habit of locating TVs and stereo speakers outdoors (sans neighborly consideration) and the use of the loudest leaf blowers of modern manufacturing.

With the SA2020 initiative, the City has set a goal to add 7,500 new residential units downtown. Already built are Cevallos Lofts and 1010 S. Flores. Currently under construction are the Elan Riverwalk apartments and the Big Tex apartments, both which have 350 units. In the planning stages are a 150-unit apartment complex located on “the slab” next to La Tuna Restaurant and a project on Cedar Street with 12 units and 5 units.

You may have seen someone lurking in the neighborhood in the late evening or early morning carrying long wire cages draped with towels. It’s a volunteer from The Cannoli Fund! The nonprofit recently received a grant from the KWA to support the Community Cat Carpool, a program that assists residents in trapping and transporting cats to low-cost clinics to be fixed and vaccinated. The practice of TNR (trap-neuter-return) is widely agreed to be the most humane and effective way to control and assure the health of stray or feral cat populations (now often called community cats).

I’ve lived in Great Britain twice in my life (thus far) and both times enjoyed that nation’s high threshold for eccentricity. One of my favorite (or is that favourite?) oddities there is the Cloud Appreciation Society. Any nation that spends time gazing at, and appreciating clouds, is tops in my book. You can become a member for about eight pounds and become a certified daydreamer (with a certificate to prove it).

Those who appreciate clouds also appreciate the International Cloud Atlas, not to be confused with the labyrinthine novel and film of the same name. This Atlas really is a handbook for sorting out genus and species of airborne vapor. The Atlas was first published in 1896 during the infancy of meteorology, as a way of establishing some basis for common description of cloud formations, and as a means of supporting early attempts at forecasting. It was a handsome document full of very early color photographs. A contemporary English meteorologist, Ralph Abercrombie, had observed that cloud formations seemed to be similar all over the earth, and why not? Clouds aren’t impounded by borders.