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Friday, July 3, 2009

Kuwamura Park Report: Who is Kuwamura?

I recently did a story on a group of National Junior Honor Society students from Zachry Middle School who participated in a community service project at Kuwamura Park located at Timber Path and Cliffbrier in Emerald Valley. This story prompted one former GNW resident and long time reader to ask about the origin of the park name. And that prompted me to ask the same question. Who is Kuwamura and why do we have a park named after him?

As you might imagine, my research started with the GNW office staff. Apparently, the naming of the park took place long before any of the current staff, so I had to dig deeper. I did notice that on a plaque outside the office there was a listing for Paul J. Kuwamura who served on the GNW Board of Directors between 1989 and 1995. Now, I was on to something.

Next, I asked several former board members for details and was finally given the phone number for former Director Judy Stubbs. We had a very enjoyable conversation during which she described how Mr. Kuwamura was elected to his position on the very day that he sold his home in the Great Northwest to move into a new home in a neighboring sub-division. I asked her why then he served the board for several years, and she replied, “That was the type of dedicated person Jeff was.

When communities with HOA’s first start, it is not uncommon to have their board of directors made up of builders and Realtors overseeing the project, many of whom naturally lived off premises. As the neighborhoods matured, the board would be transitioned to residents elected to the positions. But in 1989, there was no rule in place requiring that a board member reside in, or own property in the GNW, and Mr. Kuwamura was able to serve. And serve, he did.

According to Mrs. Stubbs, Director Kuwamura had a background in the building field and he was able to assist our maintenance staff with putting together scheduling programs to more efficiently run projects and maintenance related tasks. But much of his greater contributions came in support of the park at Emerald Valley which now bears his name.

Before the association had an A-Team”, Mrs. Stubbs told me, “Jeff volunteered quite a bit to upgrade that park.” He and others did a lot of work to get playground equipment.

As I continued to ask around for more information, I learned that our very own Fred Murphy, Director of GNW Maintenance, lives next door to Mr. Kuwamura in a nearby neighborhood. Through Fred, I was able to contact Jeff and learn more.

Jeff told me, “My intentions for running for election to the board was primarily because of the disparity between Silver Creek and Emerald Valley and how Emerald Valley was viewed by the board which was made up of all Silver Creek residents. Even though Emerald Valley residents paid the same dues they were treated as second class residents by the association. In matter of fact when I first came on there were discussions on removing Emerald Valley from the Great Northwest.

Mr. Kuwamura was in fact dedicated to the mission of increasing the the benefit to his neighborhood. He continued, “During my tenure we managed to raise the level of attention that Emerald Valley received”.

Sitting on the the board of directors between 1989 and 1995, including a term as vice chairman, Mr. Kuwamura would be instrumental in numerous major projects and issues of the day. He said, “City of San Antonio Annexation, which we as a board worked very closely with City Council and the Mayor in making sure that our concerns and needs would be addressed.” Of great significance was pushing for the building of the bridge on Prue Rd, so that police would have a more direct route into our community from the SAPD sub-station serving our area.

Later, Mr. Kuwamura was appointed to a Blue Ribbon Committee seated by then Mayor Lila Cockerell for the development of a 5 year master plan for the San Antonio Fire Department, which a lot of the changes we recommended are in place today and have raised the level of service including funding more EMS units, relocating some stations, also the development of the Emergency Management Center.

And Jeff told me, “We also created the Great Northwest Security force, developed the Recreation Director position and Recreation Programs, which I believe most still are going on.” He also said, “We added several new facilities including the David Flores Room at Emerald Valley, the drainage park area, the new Silver Creek pool building and baths, the volleyball courts to mention a few.

So there you have it. I’d say that Jeff Kuwamura played a significant role in the history of The Great Northwest, and that is why you see a park named for him.


Anon E. Mouse said...

This needs to be an article in the Passages...

David (Japan) said...


Nice research on your part leading to the uncovering of a piece of GNW history that most of us have no knowlege of. It was great that you could speak with Mr. Kuwamura himself. Thank for taking the time to do this. I agree that story might be interesting to a wide range of GNW residents.

Anonymous said...

This really was one of my favorite posts of yours, Dave. I appreciate your effort in uncovering a great story about one of the good guys. Thanks! --Deb Sanders

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I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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