Cartoonist Encourages IPJI to Remain Vigilant

Will plans for expansive development return to the Jekyll scene once the economy recovers and the lending market improves?  This is an often question largely prompted by the startling expansion of Jekyll’s built environment forecasted in “The Long-Term Impacts of Development on Jekyll Island,” an analysis produced for the JIA in February of 2009 by the Bleakly Advisory Group (BAG), the goal of which was to “provide an analytical framework for considering the appropriate level of future development on the island.” According to BAG’s analysis, an increase in the number of Jekyll’s lodgings and residences from the current figure of 1,800 to 4,100, and a doubling of the island’s peak season population to 15,000 people per day, would accomplish the JIA’s revenue goals without detracting from Jekyll’s character or the island’s appeal to visitors.

As pointed out months ago by professional public land planner Dr. H. Ken Cordell, [To read Dr. Cordell's analysis, click here] the BAG analysis suffers from a series of problems which invalidate its findings:

  • “Impacts” were measured mainly in economic terms -- how much money can be generated for JIA by increasing visitation to a certain level, and how much development is needed to accomplish this.
  • Impacts on Jekyll’s environment and wildlife were excluded from BAG’s analysis
  • The impact on Jekyll’s character and the visitor experience were grossly under-measured due to a fatal flaw in how BAG compared the built-out Jekyll to other coastal resorts.
  • A marketing analysis was not conducted to determine if what BAG proposed is what the public wants for Jekyll’s future.

Despite the flaws in the BAG study, the JIA publicly endorsed it when it was released and still stands behind it.

The JIA’s continued support for the BAG study begs the troubling question, will the Authority embrace the expansive build-out forecasted by BAG once the Jekyll town center project is completed? It is this question which prompted cartoonist Sam Rawls to send IPJI the drawing below.