Endangered Indiana bat plays role in delaying new construction at Westlake's Crocker Park

WESTLAKE, OHIO - A major construction project, worth hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs, has been put on hold, in part, because of something no bigger than your thumb.

American Greetings plans to move its world headquarters to Westlake's Crocker Park. At the same time Crocker Park is adding more retail.

Work could have started last spring, but six months later not a leaf has been touched on the 25 acres because the rare Indiana bat is endangered and federally protected. The bat is less than two inches long and weighs a quarter ounce.

"That (bat) held the project up because the first phase of construction was to build the parking garages and trees that had to be cleared. So the project was held back because we couldn't meet the April deadline," said Robert Kelly Director of Engineering for the city of Westlake.

The Indiana bat summers in Ohio from around April through October. It mates and makes its home in the woods, where trees have the type of bark they like.

As colder weather settles in, the bats head back to the caves of Indiana. That mean clearing the trees along Crocker Road is now scheduled for early November. If and when, the bats return to Westlake next spring, they'll have to find other woods.

"So by the delay of the bats, Crocker Park on its next phase will have to expedite their construction work to be able to meet the Christmas season for 2014," Kelly said.

A survey of the bats was not done so the exact number of them is not known.

A spokesperson for Crocker Park said there were several reasons for the projected being delayed and that it takes a lot of leg work to get such a large construction project off the ground. The spokesperson said the trees with the type of bark the Indiana bats prefer are in the woods, no one from Crocker Park has seen the elusive bat.

Calls to American Greetings were not returned.

Meanwhile, a Nordstrom Rack is moving into Crocker Park in the old Borders Store at The Promenade next year.

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