"The bats did not cause delays in the project," he said.
Indiana fruit bats, an endangered species at both the state and federal level, spend from April through early October in Northeast Ohio. That means their habitats, including the woods where the American Greetings world headquarters will be built, can't be disturbed during that time.
But, Kelly pointed out, work could not have begun before April, bats or no bats.
"We don't even have a contractor yet for the project," he said. "We're still reviewing bids."
Also, he added, the preliminary development plan for the American Greetings project was not brought before the Planning Commission until the summer. After it was approved by the Planning Commission in late August, it was approved by City Council in September.
Outside of the wingspan, Indiana fruit bats are tiny, said Dave Wolf, director of wildlife at Lake Erie Nature and Sciene Center in Bay Village. Their bodies are about the size of a small, young mouse. They are very similar to the more common Little Brown Bat, with brown to brown-gray fur.
Indiana fruit bats are nocturnal. They prefer to live in caves by day, although in the summer, mothers and their young often live under loose bark on trees near caves.
"I was kind of surprised to hear they're by Crocker Park," Wolf said. "I don't know of any caves nearby."
Despite their name, Indiana fruit bats don't eat fruit, Wolf said. They are insectivores.
Indiana fruit bats begin heading south from this area in late September to hibernate in caves over the winter, Wolf said. There are no known hibernation habitats for them anywhere in Ohio.
Protecting the Indiana fruit bat is something governments and businesses building in Northeast Ohio are used to dealing with, Kelly said. For example, plans to expand the Avon Walmart into a Supercenter were worked around not disturbing the Indiana fruit bat habitat on Walmart property there.
The bats do play a role as the project goes ahead, Kelly said. Trees in the habitat area must be cleared by April 1.