KWA Newsletter Articles

Stroll down the calm, shady streets of the historic King William neighborhood, and you’ll be transported to the 19th century by the sight of beautifully restored, Victorian-era homes and well-tended gardens.  You won’t see many people about, maybe a few neighbors in their yards and a handful of tourists with walking maps in hand.  But one Saturday in April each year, the scene changes drastically as a teeming swarm of approximately 40,000 visitors overrun the neighborhood (normally home to fewer than 250 households and businesses) to celebrate the King William Fair.

Read more: A Lighter Footprint

Invasive Species Damaging the Ecosystem Restoration Project

The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) is contracting with wildlife management specialists over the next few weeks to control the non-native Nutria-rat population within the Eagleland and Mission Reach segments of the San Antonio River Walk.  There will be 60 visible trapping mechanisms placed off the trails along the banks of the San Antonio River, and the community is cautioned not to come in contact with these traps for their safety. 

Read more: Removing Nutria-rat Population from Eagleland and Mission Reach

The City announced that it will install a “chain chime” near the Union Pacific bridge that crosses S. St. Mary’s St. near Brackenridge High School.  The King William and Lavaca neighborhoods asked for this solution in the past, and we’re hopeful that it will work. 

For those of you who park on the street, I learned an interesting tip about parking and bike safety that I hope many of you will consider using: When you park on the street, rather than reaching for your vehicle’s door handle with your left hand, use your right hand.  This forces you to turn toward the street and slightly behind, looking for cycles, pedestrians, and other through traffic.  How hard would it be to form a new habit?

- Rose Kanusky
KWA/LNA Parking & Transportation Committee

Israel S. Ramirez knows our neighborhood well. He is the one responsible for planning and installing the street closure barricades on Fair weekend.  His knowledge and passion for the Traffic Control industry is truly amazing and we are grateful to have him as part of our team.  Israel started with the King William Fair back in 1972 when he would close off the streets with barricades on his own.  

Read more: Israel Ramirez: Flasher Equipment Providing Safety for Us All

2016 marks the tenth anniversary of Sue Duffy’s volunteer position as Chief Parade Wrangler. She sat down recently with Rose Kanusky to share her story.

R: Your history with the King William Fair is actually much longer than your decade as parade chair. How did it start, especially when you don’t live in Southtown?

S: In the late 80’s through the early aughts, I performed at the Fair with the San Antonio Irish Dancers and various Celtic bands. Around 2003, I was working at the same firm as Tina Garza [a lifetime resident of King William] who asked her co-workers to volunteer for the Fair. I volunteered to work with the parade, and was given the job of organizing the end of the parade during lineup, then marching along with it. 

Read more: Sue Duffy Celebrating 10 Years as Chief Parade Wrangler

The 2016 King William Fair has passed.  My report had to be submitted before the Fair in order to meet the Newsletter deadline, but as I write this, there is a lot of action going on at the KWA office, thanks to the Fair Manager Zet Baer and Fair Coordinator Melanie Whitley, Fair Assistant Syeria Budd and their volunteers.  Many folks volunteered to help with the Fair – far too many to thank here.  The Fair staff drives the engine but the volunteers provide the energy and it could not happen without them. 

Read more: President's Report: May 2016

Thank you to all the residents, business owners, and property owners who took the time to complete the City’s parking survey.  We anticipate that results will be included in the next technical memo prepared by the City’s consultant, which should also address national best practices for residential parking permits.  

The consultant produced two other technical memos, one surveying available parking in the area and one surveying the street widths.  The consultant is likely to make a recommendation in the coming months that will address our neighborhood parking/traffic issues; however, the recommendation may need City Council approval before implementation. 

Read more: Parking & Transportation Committee Report: May 2016 “power ranked America’s most beautiful historic ’hoods,” and King William made #11:

“While the area was originally farmland owned by the Mission San Antonio de Valero (aka the Alamo) in the 1700s, this primarily residential neighborhood didn’t really take shape until the 1860s when German immigrants began to settle and build homes in the area.  By the late 1800s, it had evolved into the city’s most elegant district.  These days, you can stroll the banks of the San Antonio River and check out historic mansions like Villa Finale and the Steves Homestead Museum while admiring the neighborhood’s beautiful Greek revival, Victorian, and Italianate homes, many of which feature plaques out front offering historical info.”

Spring is here and we can plant anything that likes warm weather.

If it has been three months or more since you last fertilized your lawn and flowerbeds, now is the time.  Use a good slow release organic fertilizer.  Do not look for them at the big box stores because they do not normally carry them.  Organic fertilizers do not have to be watered in immediately after application if you want to wait for the next rain shower.

Read more: Out in the Garden: May 2016

May is a special month in any year, but this year it stands out as the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.  An act of Congress, the legislation provided the basis for the formation of historic preservation agencies in all 50 states, for the creation of local preservation ordinances based on newly written guidelines from the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, and for the identification and formation of local historic districts like King William. 

Read more: City Lights: May 2016

Last month I had to have my home tented and fumigated for the third time in 10 years to eradicate drywood termites.  Sad to say that one of my neighbors on Rische Street also went through this same process about a year ago.  I have to wonder if perhaps the termites on my side of the neighborhood are swarming from house to house before being discovered.  These unwanted house guests were eating my home and forced me to move out for 24 hours. 

My pest guy told me that drywood termites are often misdiagnosed as subterranean termites.  Drywood termites “swarm,” whereas subterranean termites crawl on the ground because they require moisture.  Drywood termites are sneaky, they can enter the house through infested furniture or through foundation or attic vents.  They often eat away for months or years at your dry, good, 100+ year old wood floor or rafters before they are discovered.  Termites cause billions of damage each year in Texas.  

Read more: Unwanted House Guests

About five years ago, my wife Anne and I installed solar panels on our 100-year-old King William home.  We went through HDRC review on this installation and got approval, as the panels were in the same plane as the roof and were on a side exposure minimally visible from the street.  They fulfill most of our daily energy needs and sometimes produce a little extra that we sell to CPS.  When we realized that we could also charge an electric car with our solar panels and stop buying fossil fuels, we were ecstatic.  

Read more: Driving Sunlight: A Bright Future

Sustainable.  Green.  Net zero.  EnergyStar.  LED.  These are the buzzwords of late.  Daily we are becoming more and more familiar with the lingo of our time, but most of us truly have no idea what any of these things mean, or how we as individuals can make our own little corner of the world work better for us, our wallets, our families, our homes and our communities.  How can each of us contribute, lessening our own carbon footprint and saving our hard-earned money? 

The good news is this: there are many ways that we can make our homes and businesses more sustainable and energy efficient, and many of them come with rebates and tax incentives attached to help ease the burden of investment.  

Read more: Green Options

The King William Association is a registered neighborhood association with the City of San Antonio.  This means the Association receives notifications regarding zoning requests within our boundaries and can make comment reading the zoning change.  I have often been asked why some places need to rezone and others do not.  Below is an interview with Catherine Hernandez, COSA Zoning Manager.

Cherise Bell: What does “change of use” mean?

Catherine Hernandez: A “use” is defined as the legal enjoyment of property for a specific purpose.  A “change of use” is an action to make the use of the property different from its previous use.  

Read more: Interview with COSA Zoning Manager

As historic property homeowners or renters, we are stewards of history and as such should try to maintain the architectural integrity and authenticity of the exterior of our houses for future generations.  There are several resources available that provide guidance to improving energy efficiency in historic houses.

First, the City of San Antonio Historic Design Guidelines has these suggestions: 

Insulate buildings using minimally invasive techniques to improve energy efficiency. Appropriate insulation techniques vary based on the type of construction and should be selected in consultation with a contractor specializing in historic home maintenance.  Moisture problems within the wall cavity should be addressed prior to adding any sort of insulation.  Blown in insulation may retain entering moisture, ultimately leading to rot and decay.

Read more: Sustainability Resources

SAY Sí (San Antonio Youth, YES) has long been known as San Antonio’s premier out-of-school time creative youth development organization. Since its inception in 1994, its growing success rates have garnered national attention and recognition. But for the first time in its 21-year history – SAY Sí’s tuition-free programs will go global. 

On February 9, SAY Sí hosted a “Changemakers Press Conference” event to announce new program support from: The Santikos Charitable Foundation, COSA’s Department for Culture and Creative Development and Adobe’s new corporate responsibility initiative, Project 1324.

Read more: SAY Sí Goes Global


Monthly column from KWA president.

Tips and resources for historic home and building preservation.

Learn the history of some of the neighborhood's historic structures.

General history and anecdotes about the King William Area.