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More than 500 Community Members Support a Bigger Climbing Gym

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In less than two weeks, a petition to allocate additional square footage to Rec Center’s community climbing gym has received more than 530 signatures.

The petition’s Comments section indicates a range of reasons for the support, from a broad spectrum of community members.

“As the mother of a small child, I can speak to how important indoor recreation spaces are—especially in the winter,” wrote Shannon White Burns. “It would be great to have a gym large enough to accommodate a variety of users, from small children to experienced athletes and climbers.”

“Climbing is a fast-growing, popular sport,” wrote John Prenner. “It fills a void for kids not served by team sports. Its low cost makes it inclusive for most socio-economic groups. It is a sport that can be enjoyed equally by all ages [and] genders for a lifetime.”

Diversity and inclusivity emerged as central considerations among signatories.

“Notice how many Latino families use the [Rec Center] facilities,” wrote Sasha Dingle. “A climbing gym large enough to support the needs of the Jackson community would also be a key step for diversity, equity and inclusion in the outdoors.”

Christine Mychajliw concurred. “More room would help create an inclusive environment for people with disabilities to climb alongside everybody else,” she wrote.

“In order for this facility to be inclusive for all user groups, it MUST be as large as possible,” Lori Clark-Erickson wrote. “Imagine school programs, Women’s Wednesdays, youth climbing clubs, space for all…. Please make it big!! You will not regret this decision.”

Molly Tyson referenced the value a good gym would provide in developing confidence for young girls—“an arena where strength may be differently defined.”

She also cited the ways a good gym could cultivate a community-wide “culture of safety,” which “aligns with [the] goals of Teton County SAR and others in reducing backcountry incidences.”

Safety was referenced in other ways as well. “I have to drive twice a week to Idaho Falls to go to the climbing gym,” wrote Elizabeth. “In winter time [it’s] really dangerous.”

Others noted financial prudence.

“Without a properly sized climbing gym, the community would be spending precious tax payer dollars and using valuable resources to build an asset that would essentially be under-serving the community from day one of opening its doors,” said Ian Eastman.

“[T]o construct something that will exceed its max capacity in the very near future seems ill advised and a little tone deaf to its long-term success,” wrote Jeff Burke.

Perhaps more than anything else, the comments demonstrated the community’s enthusiasm for a gym built wisely.

“This is an opportunity to look forward and create a space suited to the current and future needs of the community,” wrote Marisol Sullivan.

Rick Armstrong agreed. “Build the climbing gym once and do it right and make it a reflection of our community and its climbing heritage,” he wrote.

“Let’s do this one right the first time, Teton County!!” wrote Julie Zell.

The petition is being organized by The Teton Climbers’ Coalition, which last month sent more than 80 letters to Town and County elected officials in support of a larger gym.

Last summer, more than 300 community members completed a survey on the proposed gym. 85% of respondents indicated that the 5,750 square feet then proposed for the gym would be inadequate for the needs of the community.

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