Record of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority (JISPA) Board Meeting of 19 July 2010, in the Convention Center, as recorded for JICA
(Note:IPJI has placed some text in "bold" type for emphasis and has clarified some statements)
Chairman Bob Krueger brought the meeting to order at 9:30 AM. Board members present were Mike Hodges, Sybil Lynn, and Richard Royal. Also present was Park Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks. Chris Clark and Ben Porter were on conference telephone. The audience numbered about 34 persons.
CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION:
Chairman Royal asked Museum Director John Hunter to explain the plans for the murals that are presently in the Convention Center. Hunter reported that the murals were painted in 1974. The murals were developed by Jekyll artist Esther Lippincott, an early organizer of the Jekyll Island Arts Association (JIAA). Hunter examined the murals, and concluded that their preservation would require skills not present among the Museum staffers. The owner of the Avery Gallery, who is a noted art conservator, was contacted – he determined that the murals could be taken down, but the sheetrock paper beneath would have to be taken off with the murals, and then carefully removed. The cost estimate for removal and conservation treatment was $270,000. It was recommended that the murals instead be documented with a large-format camera, so that the images could be printed in a future convention-center display. Mike Hodges wondered whether the Jekyll Island Foundation might be interested in seeking funds for the conservation of the murals? Answer: Probably not, but perhaps the JIAA would be interested. Chairman Royal noted that conservation of the murals could be handled by any private group that might want to bid on the project, at their own expense. Chairman Krueger reminded Hunter that this bid announcement must be made ASAP, since the demolition of the Convention Center will take place soon.
Chairman Hodges could provide only tentative figures for the Park's finances, since the fiscal year has just concluded, so the budget calculations are still in the works. For the month of June, total revenue was about $1.98 million ($125,000 over budget). For the fiscal year ending 30 June, total revenue was about $16.6 million ($60,000 over budget, and $200,000 over total revenue for the previous fiscal year). The main factor in providing higher revenue was the increase in the parking fee. Golf was about $400,000 under budget. Net operating cash flow was about $250,000 for June, and $1.2 million for the fiscal year.
Hodges announced that AT&T is seeking a new lease for an improved cellphone antenna (including coverage of iphones) on the water tower on Ogden Road. It would be a three-year lease beginning in 2010, and two additional 5-year renewals would be available, at $30,000 per year, and 3% annual increase. Accounting Director Marjorie Johnson noted that AT&T is also planning to erect antennas on two additional water towers, to improve their cellphone service in the Park. The new lease was approved by the Board.
Another new lease proposal was from Doc Dougherty, for a food-and-drink concession to be constructed within/alongside the public restroom building in the Historic District adjacent to the Morgan Center (9 Pier Road). The fee will be $700 per month (3% increase per year, no percentage rent, one 3-year option to renew). Director Hooks clarified that the public restrooms will remain as is, and the new lease will be for an expansion of the building. The lease was approved.
Chairman Krueger remarked that the Authority Board has sought to build connections to the Coastal College, because the potential value of the College's programs to the Park are clear. He was pleased to see that a formal partnering with the College will now take place. Director Hooks described the partnering agreement. Both study purposes and athletic (golf, soccer) purposes will be encompassed. Already the orientation sessions for the new 4-year students were held in the Park, and the College's new promotional materials include aspects of Jekyll Island State Park. Activity fees for new full-time students at the College will include a $10 parking pass for the Park, but the students with a pass will have to use the pay lane to enter the Park (the student pass will be fixed to a vehicle, but will not be a bar-code pass). The student-pass program will be a one-year pilot, and will be assessed jointly by the College and the Park Authority after one year. Hooks observed that the students with passes will likely provide good candidates for employment in the Park's hospitality businesses.
Chairman Krueger introduced College President Dr. Valerie Hepburn. Hepburn gave the Authority Board credit for the concept of partnership between the College and the Park, since it was an outgrowth of Hepburn's serving on the Authority's advisory committee. Hepburn noted that the College has just been approved to offer a coastal-ecology major, which will make the partnership with the Park especially valuable for the ecology students. Hepburn also mentioned the possibility of building a planetarium in the Park. Mike Hodges commended Hepburn for her leadership role in building a strong secondary-education facility in the Golden Isles. The Board approved the memorandum of agreement between the College and the Park Authority, and gave Director Hooks permission to strive to reach the agreement's goals.
Chairman Hodges announced the first reading of the residential-rental license ordinance. The first reading will consist of publication of the ordinance on the Park Authority website (<http://www.jekyllislandauthority.org/>). The purpose of the ordinance is to require all Park residents who wish to rent their houses to obtain a residential license. The ordinance will require lessors of houses to maintain high quality of their rental properties, and to ensure that lessees comply with all lease requirements. The license fee will be $20 per year, and the percentage of rental income to be paid to the Authority is 3% after the first four years of ordinance application. During the first four years, the percentage will be discounted to 1% and then 2%.
Chairman Krueger noted that the month of June was quite a good one for the Park's hotels: occupancy for June, 2009 was 59%, and for June, 2010, 66% (it was 92% at the Hampton Inn).
Mindy Egan expressed excitement at the announcement of the partnering between the College and the Park Authority. She reminded the audience of previous commentaries strongly suggesting that the Park be used for education and research.
Mark Lichtenstein wondered whether the student passes for full-time students at the College would be transferable? Answer: No; though the passes will not have photos on them, they will have individual numbers and be attached to a vehicle.
Richard van Iderstyne proposed that the Jekyll Airport might be used in conjunction with the College as a site for a flight school, since several Jekyll residents are qualified to participate in such a school.
Frank Cerrato suggested that collection of rental fees from residential-rental license holders be done on a quarterly basis, rather than monthly, in order to simplify accounting and reporting.
Chairman Hodges asked Dr. Hepburn what the size of the full-time student population is likely to be? Answer: 2,000 to 2,300.
Bob Moone inquired about the potential for a drama department at the College, that could utilize the Park's amphitheatre? Answer: There is presently no theatre degree, but there is a relationship with the Savannah College of Art & Design, enabling Coastal College students to obtain a fine-arts degree, and the College would like to take advantage of the Park's amphitheatre facilities in the future.
Marketing Director Eric Garvey reported that his Division had begun to target feeder markets for travel to the Gulf Coast, and it is expected that July visitation will be boosted by this marketing. Also, the Park had a write-up in Southern Living three months in a row, and Coastal Living mentioned the Park twice in one recent issue. The recent release of 8 sea turtles by the Sea Turtle Center in conjunction with the Georgia Aquarium received a wide spectrum of press coverage. Discounting programs at Summer Waves have resulted in increases in visitation at the water park (revenue is up 10% over last year).
Tise Eyler described the impressive turnout for the recent release of 8 sea turtles near the Convention Center. He estimated the crowd on the beach at 800-1,000. The 8 turtles were released one at a time, and they were carried around the periphery of a roped-off zone, so that visitors could see them closely. Several newspaper and TV reporters attended. The children present very much enjoyed the affair, and conservation efforts were winners at this event.
Frank Mirasola updated the audience on the turtle-nesting season in the Park. As of 6:00 AM that morning, 126 nests had been recorded, signaling a strong year, though the nesting rate is beginning to slow down. One negative factor: there is a fox in the Park that has been raiding nests, taking about 40 eggs from 4 or 5 nests. Director Hooks responded that the Authority is trying to relocate this fox.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Landscape Superintendent Cliff Gawron described the interpretive play area that he is planning to install in the Great Dunes Park. The site is surrounded by dune grasses and a naturally sculpted live oak, and is the highest point in Great Dunes Park. The center of the interpretive area will contain a large (24 x 21 x 4 feet) dyed-concrete sculpture of a loggerhead sea turtle, which will be available for climbing by kids. There will be three interpretive panels, describing loggerhead nesting and beach ecology. Two of Gawron's summer interns (landscape architectural students at UGA) described the details of the turtle sculpture – they have attempted to ensure that the sculpture will be lifelike (e.g., the plan for the eyes is to use mosaic tiles, and a flipper tag will be attached to it to connect the sculpture to the Sea Turtle Center). Gawron noted that the sculptor will be David Millman.
Director Hooks announced that the 2010 Comprehensive Multi-hazard Disaster Mitigation Plan (partners: Glynn County, the City of Brunswick, and the Jekyll Island State Park Authority) has been updated. Its purpose is for pre- and post-disaster mitigation. The Plan enables potential funding from federal sources. The Board approved the Plan update.
Director Hooks reported that Great Dunes Park will not be ready until about Labor Day (some of the materials used were found to be substandard, and had to be removed). The first event in the temporary convention center will start on 9 October. The new gas station will not be completed on schedule, due to a shift in priorities by the Flash Foods company. Nine firms have been shortlisted in the competition for the new Convention Center construction; the winner will be notified on 21 September. The existing Convention Center will come down in early October; the last event in that Center (a United Way function) will be 29 August.
Of 618 current residential leases, 432 have been signed for extension to 2089 (about 70%). The new General Manager of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center is Betsy Coy. Trammell Crow continues to pay its monthly lease fee on the two sites that it has (the former Buccaneer and Georgia Coast Inn sites), but has not reached a decision about planning new construction there. A decision is expected by September. The Authority and the State Patrol are enforcing the Park ordinance requiring helmets for bike riders 16 and under, and requiring bicycles in the Park to have bells. Redbug dealers in the Park are now handing out sheets notifying renters of Redbugs that operators of the bugs must be 21 or older. Several groups new to the Park, or that have not used the Park for years, have made bookings for 2012 and 2013 in the new Convention Center (e.g., the State Bar of Georgia and the Georgia Association of Career and Technical Educators).
Chairman Krueger expressed pleasure at the enjoyment that his wife, daughter and grandchildren had in their recent stay (first in years) in Jekyll Island State Park (especially Blackbeard's Restaurant, Sea Jay's Restaurant, the Sea Turtle Center, the Hampton Inn, and the beach).
Stanley Stewart Jr., the son of the artist who painted the murals in the Convention Center, made a plea for the preservation of the murals. He has had several calls to the effect that the murals must not be destroyed. He asked that an attempt be made to take down a panel of the murals, to see whether preservation would be feasible, rather than just accepting the recommendation that the murals be saved only as photographs.
Mindy Egan reported that the picnic area at Clam Creek was being heavily used (all but two picnic tables taken early in the day) during a recent weekend bike ride that she took to that area.
Chairman Krueger adjourned the meeting at 10:53 AM.
Respectfully submitted, Steven Y. Newell, Jekyll Island Citizens Association