UPDATE: This spa at the Rec Center did not open on Friday, as originally planned. Instead, it is expected to be ready on Tuesday. This story has been updated with the new information.
The spa at the Ehrnfelt Recreation Center is expected to reopen Tuesday, a month after a drywall panel crumbled, allowing a big brown bat to fly in.
Because the bat is a federally protected species, Strongsville officials have had to tread carefully, taking steps to keep more bats from getting into the rec center, but not blocking their way out.
"Usually if there's one, there's more," Animal Warden Mike Roth said.
The bats are apparently hibernating above the ceiling, but the warm, humid air in the pool not only caused the drywall to crumble, but woke up a bat from its slumber.
"They felt the warm air and thought it was springtime," Roth said.
Recreation Director Bryan Bogre said the piece of drywall fell Jan. 11. The next morning, lifeguards found a bat clinging to the wall in the pool area.
Roth was called to capture and release the critter, and the city called Cages by Jim, a local animal removal company, to put in special barricades on the roof that allow any bats sleeping on the ceiling to fly out, but no other bats to fly in.
The city can't do anything to disturb any slumbering bats.
"We have to wait for nature to take its course," Bogre said.
That will probably happen in April, when insects start flying. Then the bats will wake up and go out for a meal.
"Once the insects come around, they'll leave," Roth said.
The inside drywall has now been shored up, and the spa having some maintenance done.
"The main thing is, everything is safe," Bogre said. "There are no bats in the rec center, the ceiling is fixed and no one is in harm's way."
Brown bats aren't especially rare in Strongsville, according to Roth, who is occassionally called to help a panicked family get one out of their house.
"They're pretty common around here," he said.