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Temple Terrace to unveil other potential sites for bat tower

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Published:   |   Updated: July 11, 2013 at 02:57 PM

TEMPLE TERRACE - A list of possible sites for the long-planned replica of an historic bat tower is growing.

Though he declined to name them Thursday, city spokesman Michael Dunn said a small research team has identify more than a dozen new potential sites within the city to locate the bat house.

After an outcry from residents opposed to building the bat tower in Riverhills Park, Temple Terrace City Council members in June asked the city staff to take 30 days to seek alternative sites.

A small team of city workers has been working on the project with officials from the Temple Terrace Preservation Society, which has led the effort to build a new bat tower for more than a decade, Dunn said.

Their goal is "to try to explore as many sites as possible and determine their viability" to house the bat tower, Dunn said.

City Council members are scheduled to discuss the bat tower and review the sites at their 6 p.m. Tuesday meeting.

Last month, the preservation society withdrew its request to build the replica tower at the city-owned park.

City Councilman Grant Rimbey, who served as a former president of the preservation society, issued a letter on the organization's behalf on June 6.

The letter stated the preservation society would work directly with the city on one or two more potential bat tower sites that it knew would meet the detailed and specific parameters of the project.

On Thursday, Rimbey said he heard the city had spotted about 20 additional sites.

Some Riverhills Drive residents opposed to the park location were thrilled to learn about the possible other sites.

"I think that's great," said Mary Beth Gioffre, who lives across from Riverhills Elementary and the park. "I wish they would be more public about them."

Gioffre said she has been browsing the city and media websites in hopes of finding the list of other possible sites.

Scott Hines, who lives on Riverhills Drive across from the park, also wants the city to find a new location. But he said he doesn't want to shift the concerns about bat smells and droppings to another populated neighborhood.

The bat tower will resemble the city's original tower built in 1924 and burned down by an arsonist in 1979. The new tower will be large enough to accommodate 600,000 bats.

kknight@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7413

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