Ziplines Have More Variety Than You Think, Says Allegan Manufacturer

ALLEGAN, Mich. — Flying through the sky and hopefully landing in Grand Rapids this fall – a zip line downtown stretching over the Grand River.

It’s the brainchild of Jarl Brey and Jane Timmer.

But many people wonder about the lasting appeal. Will the novelty go away?

According to the head of the industry leader – based out of Allegan –  there’s a lot more to these things than just going from Point A to Point B.

“This one’s shipping to China right now,” Jim Liggett says as he walks past a stack of steel pieces in his company’s 100,000-square-foot facility.

He remembers when he first discovered the thrill.

“My first exposure was right here in West Michigan at Pretty Lake Adventure Center,” he says. “I got on that ropes course when I was 17 years old and I never forgot that experience my entire life.”

So the Martin native started Ropes Courses, Inc. in 1989. They’ve built courses for Carnival Cruises and dozens of malls and theme parks around the world. They’re currently working on a project for Disneyland China.

Liggett lives just two blocks from the proposed site for the Grand Rapids zipline.

Once he heard the pitch, he knew he had to get involved.

“The zipline specifically is really a market that’s on fire,” Liggett says. “We happen to do them. We do them inclusively with our ropes courses.”

So…what’s a ropes course?

“It’s bunch of elements in the air,” Liggett explains. “You get a harness on, you hook into a tracking system, you go up some stairs and you have access on multiple levels to different elements of different physical challenge.”

“We have about 300 different elements that we choose from that we can put on them.”

The Grand Rapids site would now include a ropes courses. It’s that variety that gives the whole experience a new feel every time up.

“A lot of times after a year or two, they will replace all the elements and you’ll have a brand new course, keeps it fresh for the people,” Liggett says.

“We’re trying to do everything but build a restroom in the air.”

Even though they look like complex structures, Liggett says these things are usually up and running in four months once construction starts.

They’re hoping to have the one in Grand Rapids ready for ArtPrize 2013.

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