Clayton County

Metro Atlanta city council vote rock-climbing wall inside recreation center will remain

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — College Park City Council voted Friday to keep the climbing wall at its currently location inside the Tracey Wyatt Recreational Center.

Last month, Channel 2 Action News reported that council voted unanimously to give the city manager a $60,000 budget to investigate the location of the wall.

Taxpayers in College Park demanding to know why but received little answers.

“I don’t think there has been a reason why, a legitimate reason as to why this wall should come down,” said Shekita James.

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James’ little boy climbs on the wall and attends summer climbing camps at the rec center.

“Safety is not a factor. The experts have deemed that this wall is safe. We have the technology for this wall to be safe. I absolutely do not think it should come down.”

Professional Climber Kai Lightner’s non-profit, Climbing for Change and a second non-profit called 1Climb donated the wall after securing $100,000 from Adidas in 2020.

The goal was to bring free access to the sport to more children.

By 2021, city leaders were there for the ribbon cutting, and the wall was working.

In April, Lightner said he received an e-mail from Director of Recreation & Cultural Arts Michelle Johnson asking how much it would cost to remove the wall.

“I never heard a complaint. So, my first question was why,” said Lightner. “Nobody wanted to tell me why or give me a response.”


The City Council’s director for City Manager, Dr. Emmanuel O. Adediran’s $60,000 budget was to “make the best administrative actions on determination of relocation of the rock wall, to investigate the wall and decide where it should be moved.”

“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.

Channel 2 Action News Reporter Courtney Francisco spoke to people outside the rec center who have used the wall before.

“I got up safely. I got down safely with no problems,” said Joan Allen.

“If you have somebody safe to guide you to climb the rope and guide you down, I think you’d get more people to love to go up it to exercise,” said Regina Gibbs.

“There’s a system called auto belay that allows for the up and down motion to happen without it happening rapidly, without the need for a spotter,” said James.

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The wall costs the city about $34 a year in insurance, said Lightner.

To ask why someone would want to remove the wall and to clarify the council’s latest directive to investigate it, Channel 2 Action News reached out to the mayor, city council members, the city manager, two people in the communications department and the man the recreational center is named after, Tracey Wyatt.

Lightner said removing the wall and relocating it to another spot would not be financially efficient. He said that could cost more than $100,000 dollars.


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