By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
Grove City officials plan to demolish the barn that has been a fixture at Gantz Park for decades.
According to William Vedra, deputy city administrator for the city, a colony of bats caused extensive damage to the barn. He said bat waste has been found in the wood, dry wall, ceiling tiles, duct work, and into the concrete block walls.
“We are not confident that we can make the structure safe for people, especially for young kids,” said Vedra. “Economically, it makes more sense to demolish the building. There is just so much contamination.”
Prior to the discovery of the bats, the barn housed the city’s popular RecSchool program for pre-school aged children.
Earlier this year, a facility maintenance employee found bat droppings inside the structure. City officials then contacted an exterminator, who found evidence of bat bugs inside the barn. A consultant also observed the barn in the evening and confirmed that a colony of bats were living inside the structure. A colony can include hundreds of bats.
The city had the roof of the barn removed so the bats would fly out. The roof was then covered to prevent the flying mammals from reentry, though it has been reported that some have found a way back in.
According to city officials, the damaged barn is not covered under the city’s insurance policy.
Vedra said the city plans to have a contractor examine the structure to give a price for demolition. He also said the city will work with the EPA, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and other state agencies to complete all the necessary permits before demolishing the barn.
“Most bat species are protected in Ohio, so we want to make sure we are not endangering anything,” said Vedra.
The demolition date has yet to be determined.
RecSchool, the nature-based preschool program operated by the city’s parks and recreation department, was cancelled when city officials learned about the bat colony. RecSchool operated from September through May and could accommodate more than 100 children.
According to Vedra, the city has had a modified hybrid program to replace the RecSchool offering. He said it has been more of a program that is not tied to the school year. The city has had a small group of kids at the Kingston Center that take field trips to the local parks.
As far as a permanent plan to replace RecSchool, Vedra said, “We are exploring options.”