At the end of the Commentary you will find Letters to the Editor in response to the editorial
Community's future lies with Jekyll Island
The Brunswick News
Monday, August 11, 2008
The recent announcement by the Sea Island Co. that it was laying off 300 to 400 employees shook the community.
More than that, it shook the affected individuals and their families, who must now find other sources of income.
Given Sea Island's history of loyalty and dedication to the community and to the people who make it the internationally famous resort that it is, the layoffs were no doubt a necessary reaction and unavoidable consequence of a weak economy.
Rest assured, the company had no other recourse.
It serves as yet another stark reminder to the rest of us, though, just how important it is for our community to take its jobs and its future seriously and to continue to diversify and strengthen the economy of Brunswick and the Golden Isles.
We owe that much to ourselves and to the hundreds of people who are today suddenly without work due to no fault of their own.
This includes not letting diamonds just sit in the ground.
It benefits no one to do that, especially those who are unemployed and desperate for a steady paycheck.
Georgia and the Golden Isles have been guilty of that for a long time on the coast and to some extent, continues to be so, even when others are suffering job loss and financial distress.
The diamond in this case is Jekyll Island, a state park that can be much more than it is.
It could be revamped in such a way as to become both a super-educational tool for those who believe in protecting the environment and a star attraction with a gravitational pull capable of entertaining crowds that are much larger than the ones that visit there today.
An effort to utilize this asset, not destroy it, over the past year has yielded little result.
Every plan and proposal has been met with opposition.
Everything that Linger Longer Communities comes up with just never seems to be good enough. Someone is always objecting.
Well, it's time to put away the swords and work together for the common good of all citizens of this community and state.
Jekyll Island is not Cumberland Island, a national seashore that by law allows very little human interaction.
It's a place purchased by the state for all to enjoy, including those who fancy dining and shopping on the ocean.
It's impossible to achieve this goal with what the island has now.
Yes, we can have our cake and eat it too if we work together and take careful, well thought-out steps.
The Brunswick News
Fri, Aug 15, 2008
Driving onto an island, with native plant landscaping and tree canopy, birds and wildlife galore, a breathtaking open vista of the ocean and an easy stroll to the beach to get sand between your toes. Check into one of the many upgraded, modest hotels that won't break the bank and plan your next day at the beach or biking or kayaking. That's what most Georgians and visitors are asking to preserve on this state owned island. The News still doesn't get it.
Private interests and profit should not drive this public project. The public outcry to slow down this fast moving train centers on two proposals by the JIA.
First, it's hard to find rationale other than quick profits for adding thousands of privately owned condos, cottages time shares and an upscale "town center" to support residents and guests on a state owned island, a public park.
Secondly, the developers have little or no incentive to build hotels that are 'affordable for all Georgians' as the creating law demands.
Thousands of Georgians, not just local residents, have expressed that they want to – conserve nature's gift to us, preserve the cultural history, and upgrade hotel and tourist related facilities. They want assurances that all will be adequately funded and maintained. No one demands the status quo.
Joann C. Cook
St. Simons Island
Why do you continue to jam down our throats your love affair and support for Linger Longer. The survey was conducted and the figures speak for themselves. Georgians do not want Linger Longer's grand design for the town center plan.
All we want is a nice grocery store, pharmacy, post office, gift shop and restaurants that all can afford to eat at. We do not want condos associated with it. Period!
Read your own press. Just recently you interviewed hotel and restaurant owners on the island and they clearly stated that visitors wanted affordable lodging and food.
I still contend that you support them in return of advertising dollars proceeds to the Brunswick News from new retail/real estate sources produced from Linger Longer's grand plan.
I am writing to respond to the editorial in Monday's Brunswick News, entitled 'Community's Future Lies With Jekyll Island'. Job losses to families are always wrenching. Larger layoffs affect communities. With gas prices rising beyond reason, the first things people forgo is travel and tourism.
However, to tie the upgrading of many of the facillities and the rebuilding of outdated lodging in Jekyll Island State Park to the economic recovery of the Brunswick/Golden Isles community is a bit over-reaching.
The editorial states that resident obstructionism impacts the proposed rebuilding of Jekyll Island's outdated facillities by Linger Longer Communities. This is far from the truth.
The vast majority of businesses, residents, tourists, and visitors to Jekyll Island State Park want to see an overdue upgrade. This upgrade of Georgia's Jewel should not be on beaches, on sand dunes, in the maritime forests, salt marshes, on bird and loggerhead sea turtle nesting areas. The reason people come to Jekyll Island State Park is for the natural, unspoiled beauty that is available to everyone at reasonable costs.
Upgrades - bring 'em on; but LLC must obey the existing environmental laws, already in place, and keep in mind the purpose of the park.
We have already begun this upgrade with the construction of the first new hotel in thirty years, on the old Holiday Inn site.
Your "Community's future lies with Jekyll Island" editorial seems to be more of the same on your part. You state that "Every plan and proposal has been met with opposition" That's true. However there has been only one plan proposed – a plan for hundreds of condos and multiple hotels on prime beachfront greatly valued by Jekyll visitors.
You state that "Someone is always objecting." That's also true – the "someones" are thousands of Georgians all over the state that see the difference between high-end resorts (e.g. Sea Island and Hilton Head) and a state park. They come to be on the one quiet beachfront on Georgia's coast.
The replacements of the Holiday Inn (ground already broken) and Buccaneer motels promise plenty of the "high end dining" you seem to desire. We simply don't need the massive invasion of the sort proposed by Linger Longer.
With all due respect, I completely disagree with the editorial on Jekyll Island. You said that "Everything Linger Longer Communities comes up with just never seems to be good enough. Someone is always objecting." Personally, I suspect the overwhelming majority of Georgians who know and love Jekyll are the "someone" that is objecting. And with good reason, I would say. We favor revitalization, but not aggressive development. We are sensible people, not cranks and mindless malcontents. It is clear that Jekyll is one of a kind, a casual, affordable, unpretentious, beautiful, serene haven for people and wildlife. And for your dining and shopping options, might I suggest you try St. Simons right next door? Jekyll is the people's park and a natural refuge, we must not sell it out, we must preserve its character for present and future generations.
The economic setback regarding Sea Island, referred to in your Aug. 11 editorial is very sad news. However, I believe it would be most unfortunate if this were to encourage the kind of development on Jekyll Island that Linger Longer has been proposing. I am a Canadian who has visited Jekyll Island each year for the past 15 years and can report that it is the absolute uniqueness that Jekyll presently possesses that keeps so many of us coming back.
Quite simply, there is no where else in North America that could replace it. Yes, accommodations must be renovated and rebuilt but this can be done on the existing footprints without spoiling the environment that presently attracts people from near and far. My family and I spend more than $10,000 US in the Golden Isles each year because we are drawn there by Jekyll Island. Jekyll is rightly called a "jewel." Its features should be polished, they should not be reduced.
I have never sent a letter to a newspaper in my 52 years, but feel compelled to do so at this time.
My family and I are extremely concerned about what a certain company is attempting to do to "improve" Jekyll Island. Certainly some renovations need to occur, but not a the expense of doing a total facelift so Jekyll resembles fast-paced commercial resort areas. The main reason my family and I have been faithfully vacationing at Jekyll for almost 25 years is because of the serene beauty and peace that make the island unique. Let's do the absolute necessary improvements but not turn Jekyll into an island we won't recognize any longer.
Each time I think the Brunswick News has bottomed out in pushing Linger Longer's town center project, the paper's editors somehow manage to pull another rabbit out of the hat, this time by asserting that, "everything that Linger Longer comes up with just never seems to be good enough. Someone is always objecting."
Well, let's look at the facts – you know, those troublesome little details that keep getting in the way of the yarn the Brunswick News is trying to spin.
First, unless the News is privy to something the rest of the state has missed, Linger Longer has submitted only one proposal and has not yet come up with anything else.
Second, that condo-rich proposal has been rejected by the vast majority of Jekyll's visitors, as statewide surveys and a crush of articles and editorials appearing in reputable newspapers across Georgia have made clear. Contrary to what The Brunswick News is implying, objection to a flawed proposal is not obstructionism but rather good common sense.
Lastly, after slashing away at Linger Longer's critics, The News has the nerve to state, "It's time to put away the swords and work together for the common good of all citizens of this community and state." The "common good" for Jekyll, which eludes The News but is obvious to most folks, calls for the provision of the reasonably-priced, family-friendly lodgings and amenities – the kind of facilities ones would expect to find in a state park.