Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bat tower set for Scout Park in Temple Terrace

The original bat tower built on the Hillsborough River in the 1920s was damaged by arson in 1979 and deteriorated over time. Bat expert Charles Campbell designed the tower to provide a home for the voracious mosquito eaters at a time when malaria was still a problem in Florida. 

Times files (2009)

The original bat tower built on the Hillsborough River in the 1920s was damaged by arson in 1979 and deteriorated over time. Bat expert Charles Campbell designed the tower to provide a home for the voracious mosquito eaters at a time when malaria was still a problem in Florida. 

TEMPLE TERRACE — If all goes as planned, as the sun sets a swarm of bats will pour out of an odd-looking obelisk at Scout Park.

That setting, amid moss-draped oaks near the banks of the Hillsborough River, was chosen by Temple Terrace City Council this week as the site of the city's new bat tower, a reproduction of a city landmark that was built in the mid 1920s in hopes that the mosquito-eating mammals would effectively combat malaria.

Scout Park, at the southern bend of the river, which serves as the city limit, was chosen over two other locations, Rotary Park and a spot near the tennis courts in Riverhills Park, which city staff had recommended for the 40-foot tower. Tim Lancaster, leading the effort, said he hopes to get the $40,000 structure built by October of next year as originally planned, but delays in the site selection may push the date to early 2015.

The Scout Park choice came after weeks of debate between bat tower proponents and residents fearing that the creatures will be a nuisance, emitting an unpleasant odor and spreading disease. The council abandoned the original site, near the boat ramp in Riverhills Park, after neighbors appeared before them en masse to complain.

Though the tower could accommodate as many as 600,000 bats, it's likely the council will require that the roosting area inside be built to greatly limit its capacity. Council member Alison Fernandez suggested 50,000 to start with. Council member Grant Rimbey, a longtime promoter of the tower, suggested 200,000.

The Scout Park location is 240 feet from the nearest residence, according to Lancaster, president of the Temple Terrace Preservation Society.

Nick Hall, who lives near Scout Park, told the council that he knows the tower is a historical icon, but he worries about the effect that runoff from bat droppings will have on the river. He pointed out that bat guano is high in nitrates, which cause algae that chokes lakes and rivers. Though the bat guano will be collected in a hopper, and possibly sold as fertilizer, Hall said some nitrate-rich runoff will end up in the river, "which in my opinion is the true icon of Temple Terrace.''

Fernandez, who sits on the Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board, said that no one on the board or its technical advisory staff expressed concern about nitrates from the bat tower.

"Obviously, the City of Tampa, (the river) is a big concern for them; this is their source of drinking water. They also had no objections to this structure being located on the river bank.''

Downtown Temple Terrace project

In other action at Tuesday's meeting, City Manager Gerald Seeber announced that after a series of private meetings with the developer of Downtown Temple Terrace, the city's negotiating team will try again to work out an agreement to get the stalled project started again.

The city's team — Mayor Frank Chillura, city attorney Mark Connolly and Seeber — had been meeting with Vlass Temple Terrace to discuss how to end their business arrangement without resorting to a lawsuit, according to earlier statements by Connolly.

Vlass and the city have disagreed over many details of the $160 million retail-residential-cultural center on the east side of 56th Street from Bullard Parkway to the Hillsborough River.

Seeber told council members that if an agreement is reached, he would present the proposal to them for approval.

Philip Morgan can be reached at

Bat tower set for Scout Park in Temple Terrace 08/21/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 2:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.