TEMPLE TERRACE — After hearing a bombardment of bat wrath from residents, the volunteer organization planning to resurrect the city's bat tower has decided to drop plans to build the structure in Riverhills Park.
In an email dated Thursday to the City Council and City Manager Gerald Seeber, council member Grant Rimbey — who also is a member of the group planning the bat tower — stated, "While we feel the Riverhills Park site is a good one and we have more than satisfied the multiple concerns of the neighbors and the city with expert insight and letters of support, there's increasing misinformation about the project and the animosity and anger the project is generating is the very antithesis of what we intended to do, and which is the mission of our group.''
Rimbey said that the Temple Terrace Preservation Society will work directly with the city on one or two more potential bat tower sites in the city "that we know will meet the detailed and specific design parameters of the project.''
However, if those locations don't work out, the letter stated, "we will consider terminating the project.''
The city's original bat tower was built in the 1920s, with the idea that the structure would attract the winged mammals, which have voracious appetites for insects, to eat up the mosquitoes that brought malaria with them.
A few dozen residents appeared before the council Tuesday, expressing fear of disease and odor from the bat tower — expected to house 100,000 to 200,000 but capable of holding 600,000 of the winged mammals. After that, the council voted to review the sites already considered, look at new sites proposed by residents and report the pros and cons of each at the July 16 meeting.
Rimbey said in an interview that since the group knows the two sites under consideration — which he didn't yet want to name — it would like the council to address the issue before July 16, if possible.
Rimbey's letter complained that the request asked Preservation Society president Tim Lancaster and others to do "even more volunteer research and effort (and this regards exploring potential sites that we have already explored!).''
"A think it's fantastic,'' said Scott Hines, one of the protest leaders. His house is right across the street from the proposed tower.
"I think they're doing the right thing.''
Hines said he was never against the bat tower, just the planned location, and said he'd be willing "to help to find another location, if they would want me.''