NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - It's only been three days since the Nacogdoches Chamber of Commerce welcomed an Austin Street mural to the city, and now that popular mural might be torn down.
In August, the Texas Department of Transportation announced they were considering two alternatives for the widening of FM 2609/Austin Street. A TxDOT spokesperson said the improvements would expand Austin Street from two lanes to four lanes between North Street and Raguet Street.
"We obviously don't want to lose our building, and second of all, we don't want to lose the mural the guys worked so hard on, and it's a gift to the city," said Shannon Solly, the owner of the Russian River Apartments.
The mural, which highlights the history of Nacogdoches, was created in August 2013 by a group of Stephen F. Austin University students to help lighten up the city and add some color.
"It's not like we can say, 'Okay. It was fun while it lasted,' you know? You still need art accessible to the public. You still need a mural that talks about the story of Nacogdoches," Solly said.
The mural is located on the north facing wall of Russian River Apartments, and Solly said since the completion of the mural, the resident move in rate has gone up to 96 percent. But that isn't the only reason why he wants to save the mural, he said.
"Nacogdoches needs something for the people who might not know the history, [who] can come and see it and [say], 'okay. It started with Chief Caddo, and now it's ended with SFA over the years,'" Solly said.
The expansion project is still being considered, and White said there is an alternative that wouldn't even affect the apartment complex or the mural. Yet, Solly said he also has some ideas to save the mural.
"One of the solutions - if we can't preserve the wall because of the expansion - is we would like to save the wall somewhere else," Solly said. "If it's too expensive to relocate the wall, [we'll] rehire the artists to come back to Nacogdoches, find a wall downtown that everybody agrees this could be a good place for a mural, and have the artist replicate the mural onto another wall down in the city."
Solly admits Austin Street is congested and the widening project is a good thing, but he just wants to make sure that the mural stays within Nacogdoches history.
"Nacogdoches is growing. Austin Street is a main artery in the city. We're just a growing city, and these are the kind of things that need to be done, but we also want to preserve the mural," Solly said.
Solly also wants to ask anyone to come forward with new ideas on how to preserve the mural and hopes the city might get involved with some better ideas, as well.