This being my last post as president, I want to highlight some of the accomplishments this past year on big ticket items that affect our neighborhood. The efforts of the King William-Lavaca Parking and Transportation Committee chaired by Rose Kanusky have born fruit. Our meetings with the City Manager’s staff, City Center Development Office, and Transportation and Capital Improvements Department resulted in the city hiring an outside consultant, Amy Avery of Kimley-Horn Engineers, to make a thorough study of the parking and transportation issues in King William and Lavaca. We combined the two neighborhoods because we share the same parking issues and are impacted by events in each other’s neighborhoods. The consultant’s study has taken a year to complete, and has not been released, but a draft summary was presented at our committee meeting. The City will be implementing some of the recommendations as early as October. These new parking and transportation changes will be explained in forthcoming public meetings offered by the city.
With the growth of Southtown and the burgeoning commercial corridors of S. Alamo and S. St. Mary’s Streets, more new businesses will become a reality. The KWA has made efforts to negotiate with new businesses on zoning issues and create parking options for their patrons. This effort for parking options has worked well with Steve Mahoney at Francis Bogside and Andrew Goodman, who is creating a new restaurant at the old fire house on S. Alamo. Steve negotiated alternative parking at 721 S. St. Mary’s, and Andrew negotiated an agreement with SAISD and the owner of a private lot. I appointed an ad hoc committee composed of Monika Maekle and Cherise Bell to meet with the owners of new businesses early in the process to negotiate parking and zoning issues in an effort to make their businesses more neighborhood-friendly.
As we all know, the City spent two years improving the drainage and sidewalks along Pereida Street from S. Alamo to Probandt. The now-dissolved Southtown Chamber Board created a TIRZ (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone) with the City to make improvements on S. Alamo Street. The drawings were completed, but only part of the plan was implemented, and those were not according the design schematics (e.g., the controversial planter bump-outs). Cherise Bell and I have been in discussion with the City for some time to complete this project. Our pleas have now been heard. Assistant City Manager Lori Houston met with us in August and outlined a $1.3 million project to extend along S. Alamo from Cesar Chavez to Pereida. This project will include sidewalk replacement and bike lanes that will extend to Blue Star. S. Alamo Street is a major corridor in the Mission Reach and is included in VIA's VIVA cultural corridor route from Blue Star to the McNay Art Museum.
One important move to improve the KWA’s financial holdings was made this year with the creation of the Investment Committee. With interest rates for our bank accounts yielding virtually nothing, the Board approved the investment of $350,000 in an investment account. Thus far, with only about two months of this investment, the yield has been over $12,000. The income from these funds will be used to further our charter and strategic plan commitments.
All in all, it has been a good year for the KWA. The Fair staff put together the best and most successful fair ever. Our volunteer committees have done an outstanding job, and remind us that while we do have an office and Fair staff, the KWA is still largely a volunteer organization. I appreciate the efforts that all have made. -Harry Shafer