Our bats are currently happily residing in a historic building owned by the taxpaying citizens of the state of Texas. As preservation specialist emeritus of the Walker County Historical Commission, I have been unable to detect any structural defect in the historic building that could justify destroying it along with endangering nearly a million bats.
TDCJ has a long and sordid history of mismanagement and demolition of historic resources for no legitimate reason, including the architecturally and historically significant prison director's mansion, the exceptionally beautiful Walls Unit, the perfectly sound rodeo arena and the early 1900's home that created a bookend effect on 12th Street. We were able to stop the irresponsible demolition attempt of the corner home, but it was too late for its twin.
TDCJ could easily have maintained the bat building to prevent further deterioration, but it might actually take some work and thought to enlist prisoner volunteers to clean off the roof and seal it to keep the interior dry. That might entail work and thought. Please drive by and look for any cracks in the brick walls, then continue along the south side of the "Walls" and look for cracks. It seems that the "Walls" is structurally unsound and not the bat building.
The absurd tiny ovens that would allegedly house bats that currently reside in 20,000 square feet of space is a sick joke. White nose syndrome would no doubt spread and kill most of the bats if they were forced to jam into the tiny spaces that would reach deadly temperatures in the summer months.
For some reason Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Historical Commission are frightened of the political power of TDCJ and have abrogated their fiduciary and legal duties to protect both the current bat building and the bats themselves.
My wife and I hereby pledge $10,000 for the legal defense of the bats and their historic home if TDCJ starts to demolish the building that should already be under permanent protection as a state historic landmark. Filing a TRO should not be necessary if TDCJ would do its duty and protect the building and the bats or if the city of Huntsville, Chamber of Commerce, our State Rep, Texas Historical Commission and Texas Parks and Wildlife would step up to the plate and demand that the building and the bats be protected.
George and Sue Russell — Huntsville