Clayton County

Controversial climbing wall still topic of conversation in metro Atlanta community

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — The climbing wall in the Tracey Wyatt Recreational Center in College Park could stay put.

City Councilmember Roderick Gay said at the public meeting Wednesday that he would like to change his vote to investigate its removal.

“Matter of fact, reverse my vote on the wall,” said Gay.

That was one week after he was part of the unanimous vote to spend $60,000 to investigate removing and relocating the wall to a new location. Council and city leaders have yet to respond to numerous e-mails and phone calls to ask why the rock wall would need to come down.

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“I work too hard for my tax money to be used so foolishly,” said Mose James, IV.

His son has been using the wall since 2021, and he has been following council’s comments on the wall since Councilmember Tracie Arnold asked how much it would cost to remove it in an e-mail sent in April of this year.

Arnold has not responded to requests to answer why she made the inquiry, but she sent it to Kai Lightner and his team.

Lightner is a professional climber who runs a non-profit called Climbing for Change. He and another non-profit called 1Climb secured $100,000 from Adidas to build the wall in College Park to spread access to the sport.

Lightner said he chose College Park because he has childhood ties to the city. He said Tracey Wyatt rec center had enough space and height to handle it.

Lightner said removing and relocating the wall could cost $100,000 or more.


“Not a single safety issue has ever been reported on this wall at all,” said Lightner. “Everything is in perfect condition, and we purposefully partnered with Stone Summit, the local gym, because they treat this facility as a sister location.

Lightner said Stone Summit maintains the wall, changes the routes to keep them interesting and teaches rec center staff how the harnesses work.

There are no certification requirements because the wall uses auto-belay technology to prevent the climber from falling too fast or hard.

Saturday, Lightner responded to Council Member Gay’s vow to change his vote.

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“I just appreciate the fact that Councilman Gay had the courage to speak up about the situation,” said Lightner.

Saturday, Council Member Gay told Channel 2 Action News Reporter Courtney Francisco that he will introduce a proposal at the next meeting to reconsider the investigation.

“I had no idea it was so controversial,” said Gay. “The rock wall probably, most likely, will not be taken down because I’m changing my vote at the next council meeting.”

The next meeting is set for Monday, June 3.


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