Jekyll readies to update master plan
The Brunswick News
March 05, 2012
By NIKKI WILEY
Jekyll Island officials are preparing to update a 6-year-old document guiding the operation of the state-owned park.
The island's master plan is not only a critical tool for management of the island, but it's also required by law, said Eric Garvey, chief communication officer for the Jekyll Island Authority.
Operating under a 1996 plan last updated in 2006, the authority hopes the update will carry the island through the next decade.
"Those previous updates were relatively minor in the context of a master plan for the island and so we're looking at this next process to do a little more indepth, updated master plan," Garvey said.
Revisiting the plan will require taking a look at issues regarding land use, transportation and sustainability, among other topics relevant to park management.
A large part of the planning process will be collecting public input in the Golden Isles and across the state.
"We embrace the concept that this is public land and we're just the caretakers of it," Garvey said.
The Fanning Institute of the University of Georgia will lead the planning process and gather input from a variety of individuals. The institute will facilitate public input beginning with the formation of task forces revolving around issues of impact to the island.
Public engagement is essential to implementation of a large-scale plan, said Langford Holbrook, assistant director of the Fanning Institute.
"It makes it easier to implement if people have been involved," Holbook said.
The master plan process also involves an advanced land development task force, a steering committee, a management board and the board of the Jekyll Island Authority.
When the first master plan was developed, land delineation was a hot topic.
Garvey expects the appropriation of the island's land will remain an important issue.
State law requires that 65 percent of the island remain undeveloped because it is a state park, though the exact definition of undeveloped is not always clear.
In 1996, the question arose whether a golf course was considered developed land, Garvey said.
It was decided that the managed greenery of the course was developed land, but the woodlands surrounding the golf course fell into undeveloped category.
This time, Garvey said, the question is about hiking trails that run through natural wooded areas and fresh water lakes on the island.
"We think it's a good time to revisit and make sure everyone is comfortable and the public is comfortable with how the undeveloped land is defined," Garvey said.