College Park community fights to preserve donated rock climbing wall

Some College Park residents have come together to try to save a rock-climbing wall at a city recreation center. This effort comes after some city leaders have expressed interest in having it removed from that spot. 

The climbing wall at the Tracey Wyatt Recreation Center is currently closed for maintenance. Professional rock climber Kai Lightner donated it in 2021 but emails between council members show it may be at risk. 

"At this point, everything is really up in the air. We don't know what's going on," Lightner said. 

Lightner was surprised to learn College Park city leaders had discussed removing the rock climbing wall that he brought to the city, raising over $100,000 to make it happen. 

"In the pandemic, when I had the opportunity to give back to the community, I felt like this would be a great place to start," Lightner said. 

Mose James' son uses the rock wall frequently and doesn't want to see it go. 

"Our family, we are constantly in College Park Parks and Rec activities, so being able to expand their mind and expand their abilities, I know for me is something that I want to offer my kids more," James said. 

In emails beginning April 4, released by College Park Mayor Bianca Motley Broom, the interim city manager, said Council member Tracie Arnold expressed interest in removing the wall. In another email, Arnold told the city manager, "the removal of the rock climbing wall was not up for debate or discussion. Please have it removed immediately." Another email discussed donating the wall to a school. Mayor Motley Broom asked for the item to be put on a future city council meeting agenda since council approved its installation. 

"It just feels like a slap in the face to tell us, not only do you want to take this wall away, but you don't feel like you owe us any sort of explanation," Lightner said. 

FOX 5 reached out to several city leaders on Tuesday and referred to the city spokesperson, who said there was a suggestion for a different use for the space where the wall sits, but no plan is in place. 

James has started a website to save the rock wall as they continue the push for answers. 

"We want a city that believes in their constituency that wants their citizens to be a part of the process," James said. 

Several people did speak in support of the rock wall at Monday night's city council meeting, but the council didn't discuss it. At this point, there's no word on when the item may be discussed at a future meeting.