The bats at East Granville Road Park have a new place to call home.

The bats at East Granville Road Park have a new place to call home.

Three new bat boxes built by Boy Scout Andrew Badger were installed on poles in the park last week, providing up to 2,100 bats a safe and secure shelter during daylight hours and long winters.

With the help of friends and staff at Worthington Kilbourne High School, the 17-year-old planned, constructed and helped hang the boxes as his Eagle Scout project.

Andrew, a junior, is a member of Troop 156, which meets at the Linworth Methodist Church.

Andrew came across the bat box idea when reviewing projects done by Scouts in other parts of the country.

"I thought, 'what a cool idea,'" he said.

At first he wanted to install the boxes at a Columbus Metro Park, but was contacted by Jim Coffield, parks manager for the Worthington Department of Parks and Recreation.

Coffield said he doesn't really know how many bats fly at East Granville Park and the adjoining Moses Wright nature area, but the project fits with Worthington's renewed emphasis on conservation and the many kinds of flora and fauna that live in the nature preserve.

Bats are beneficial because they reduce the number of mosquitoes and because they provide educational opportunities for schools groups and others who want to learn more about the nocturnal mammals.

Andrew said he hopes the boxes will attract the brown bats common in this area and perhaps the endangered Indiana bat.

The black boxes provide the cramped, dark quarters preferred by bats. Each box can hold up to 700 bats that want to sleep, mate, or nurse their young.

Parks workers installed them on three utility poles in the park, between 12 feet and 17 feet from the ground.

Andrew credited Kilbourne teacher Roger Beck, principal Ed Dunaway and many friends with helping him complete the project.

"It was mind boggling," he said.

He said he looks forward to returning to see how many bats take up residence in his boxes.

"They will be here for years after I leave Worthington," he said.

Coffield and his parks crew work with about six to eight Scouts each year on Eagle projects.

Among the projects done in recent years are rocks in gabions that curb erosion along the Olentangy River, wire fences to protect trees from beavers along the river, and a retaining wall in the central business district.

The city often supplies materials and assists with installation, seeing it as a mutually beneficial experience for the taxpayers and the Scouts.

"The way the economy has been, we're always looking for help," he said. "It has worked out really well."