June 27, 2017


Jekyll parking fee increases do not bode well for future

The parking fee increase on Jekyll Island set for five select days this summer and fall may be the sign of a positive trend, but it does not bode well for the future.

The temporary increase means the biggest events of the year on Jekyll Island have become so popular the Jekyll Island Authority needs additional resources to handle the crowds.

Take the free-admission Shrimp and Grits Festival for example. The authority estimates roughly 45,000 people were on the island during last year’s September shindig. That is a huge increase above the average number of daily visitors, which means more workers are needed to deal with the parking, traffic and public safety issues created by so many people all at once.

Providing the resources to deal with the increased traffic on July 4, the Shrimp and Grits Festival and the Christmas tree lighting will cost money, but shouldn’t the massive increase in people coming through the gates at $6 a piece be enough to cover it?

The authority says the $4 increase to $10 for a daily pass during the five days will go into the special events fund, which makes sense if raising prices for special events. The problem is that if the normal parking fee is not enough to cover special events when several thousand more people than average are paying it, how often will increases start being imposed?

There are only five days planned currently. Will more be added the next time a large amount of people flock to the island for a junior golf tournament? What about during upcoming Whiskey, Wine and Wildlife events?

We understand putting on a top-notch event of regional appeal takes money and resources, and the increase is not likely to deter too many people from heading to Jekyll Island on those days, but what is to stop this increase from becoming the norm?

We can’t help thinking this is laying the groundwork for another everyday increase in the parking fee.

We love what Jekyll Island has become through its revitalization efforts and we look forward to seeing the final pieces of that come together.

As that happens though, the island must remain easily accessible to all Georgians, as it was designed to be.

Letter to the editor:

Special event parking fees bad idea

Why has the controversial special event parking proposal on Jekyll Island not been announced to the public and opportunity provided for public response? Hearing about it June 19 from a citizen at the JIA Board meeting, having no prior notice or hearings, is sneaky and harmful to JIA credibility.

JIA and board continue to operate in stealth mode as if Jekyll Island is their own private empire, keeping citizens in the dark about sensitive issues. I remind the board that Jekyll is a public park and the public has a right to participate in decisions — especially those that impact our wallet.

I oppose parking fee increases during special events for the following reasons:

1. Financial reports clearly show JIA doesn’t need the money. Raising fees looks greedy and uncaring to visitors.

2. Jekyll business owners need special event customers. Parking fee increases will adversely affect their business.

3. Parking fees are Jekyll’s basic source of revenue. Fees increaseed to $3 in 2001, (after about 30 years at $1) then jumped quickly to the current $6. Our visitors often gripe, but have accepted it. Tacking on fees for special events won’t sit well. It will damage our image as a family-friendly place to visit.

4. If the real reason is to discourage visitors to already overcrowded events, then the fees should be collected at the entrance to the events, not the gate.

Jekyll parking fees remains our “goose that lays the golden eggs.” It is foolish and unwise to get greedy and mess with the goose.

Al Tate
Jekyll Island