The Hannibal City Council takes the next step toward creating the second largest park in the city’s history. The deal approved Tuesday evening involves the acquisition of 185 scenic acres of land along the city’s southern border. The Sodalis Nature Preserve would be developed and financed utilizing the Conservation Fund, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

Experts say nearly 168,000 endangered Indiana bats known as Myotis Sodalis hibernate in the limestone cave network on the property bordering Bear Creek. Thirty-three mine gates have been installed to protect this population, said to be one of the largest in the world. The nature preserve will not only serve as a laboratory for bat research and wildlife observation, but will offer recreation opportunities along 6 miles of walking trails and bike paths.

City officials plan to close on the property in mid-January. A dedication event will be held in the spring.

In other business, the Council:

• Heard from resident Crystal Stephens who expressed her opinion on the damaging effects of the disinfectant chloramine on plumbing systems. The city recently switched to the chemical for water purification after certain disinfection byproducts from chlorine alone exceeded DNR standards. Stephens invited the council to visit the Illinois Veteran’s Home in Quincy to observe the damaging effects.

• Recognized the service of retiring Fire Chief Bill Madore. Madore’s replacement has already been chosen. Sean Hampton was selected to serve as Chief at the December 1 council meeting.

• Approved a contract with Terracon Consultants in the amount of $39,200 to bring contaminated flood buyout property located at 929 Warren Barrett Drive into compliance with the DNR Brownfield program.

• A Public Hearing was set for January 5 regarding the rezoning of property located in John B. Shepherd’s Subdivision.