Designs for a public skate park in Bibb County got a rocky reception at a public meeting Thursday evening, with skaters expressing concerns about both the proposals and the company that offered them up.
American Ramp Company distributed blueprints to more than 30 attendees at the Rosa Jackson Community Center Gym in East Macon. After studying multiple layouts, 21-year-old Mitchell Walker said the designs were less than ideal.
"The skate parks would be fun but there’s just not enough flow, and that’s not something we would permanently want here," Walker said. "What we want is all types of different skate obstacles in one."
Many attendees also expressed concerns about American Ramp Company itself. The Missouri-based skate park builder is the subject of a lot of negative internet chatter, alleging unreliable and unsafe products.
Russ Mullis, an avid skateboarder since 1969, said that American Ramp is the wrong choice. "We need to bid out the design," he said. "We want someone with a good reputation and I don't think that's the case here."
A company representative blames the cloud of suspicion on lawsuits brought by one their biggest competitors. "Anybody can put anything online, and often times it's the loudest person that gets listened to, and the most disgruntled," said Robb Jones, skate park specialist for American Ramp.
Bibb County commissioners only solicited proposals from American Ramp Company. Where the park will be built, who will build it, or whether it will be built at all, are all open questions.
Nonetheless, Bibb County spokesperson Kevin Barrere said the project has a lot of potential.
"It could actually bring kids from all over the local area, Warner Robins and a lot of the surrounding areas," Barrere said. "It would bring a place where families and kids can go and have a good time and skate in a safe environment instead of having to just go out and try to skate in places they’re not supposed to be."
Barrere said a master plan should be completed by next week, but that was before Thursday's public meeting.
Laura Corley is a student reporter at Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism, in which GPB is a partner.