Record of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority (JISPA) Board Meeting of 18 April 2011, in Chalets 7&8 of the Interim 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 Steve Croy, Buddy DeLoach, Mike Hodges, Laura Lanier, Sybil Lynn, and Richard Royal. Steve Croy, Buddy DeLoach, Laura Lanier, Mark Williams, and Nancy Gallagher (State Attorney General’s Office) were on conference telephone. Also present was Park Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks. The audience numbered about 31 persons.
CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION
Dr. Terry Norton provided an update on the Conservation Plan preparation. Norton reminded the group that a public forum for the purpose of discussing the draft Plan of 7 March was held on 25 March. Norton felt that the public response was largely positive; the minutes of the meeting are posted on the Authority website. Deadline for further comments was 1 April; numerous comments were received, containing about 15 major items, and these comments are also posted on the Authority website. The Conservation Planning Committee will meet to review the comments. The final draft of the Plan will be posted a minimum of two weeks before the Plan is presented to the JISPA Board for approval. The target Board meeting is either the June or July meeting. In connection with the forthcoming Plan adoption, wildlife monitoring efforts have begun under the direction of Sea Turtle Center Research Coordinator Kimberly Andrews with assistance from Americorps interns, and Brian England of Tidelands and Cliff Gawron (JISPA Director of Landscape Planning) have been working on reduction of stocks of invasive plants. The first beach lighting survey was conducted on 5 April, and cards describing turtle-safe lighting are being prepared for distribution to visitors and hotels.
Cliff Gawron reported that the restoration of the X-Men beach movie site will be complete by the end of April. Thirty-thousand individuals of several native dune plants have been planted at the site. Straw matting has been used to enhance stabilization and preserve moisture. Ten thousand cubic yards of beach quality sand were added to the site, to partially remediate the bulldozing of the dunes that took place in the 1950s. Dune-stabilization fences have been installed along the toe of the newly created dunes, according to turtle-friendly guidelines. The prairie areas were also seeded with native grasses. It will be necessary to block potential drivers from entering the restoration site (one vehicle has already driven onto the site). The memorial benches will soon be reinstalled in their original locations, with brass anchors (which had to be back ordered). The restoration site will be maintained and monitored for one year, with weaning-off of the irrigation now being applied. Gawron observed that a second dune restoration has been performed, alongside the newly reconstructed bike path near Fins on the Beach. Several environmental organizations and individual volunteers assisted the Authority with this dune planting, and were thanked by Chairman Krueger.
Chairman Hodges reported revenue for the month of March of $1.29 million, $31,000 over budget. Year-to-date total revenue was $12.16 million, $182,000 over budget. Net operating cash income for March was $48,708, $16,000 under budget. Net operating cash income for the year to date was $361,000, $426,000 over budget (a loss had been expected). Visitation by individual vehicles and by tour buses has increased over the previous fiscal year; in fact, the historic-district tour program recently had its highest visitation-day ever.
Director Hooks observed that the Authority has been considering improving its waste-collection and recycling efforts. He stated that the timing seems to be right for moving to private-company collection. Bids have been requested and received, with the low bid (of four) coming from Waste Management. Curbside collection of recyclables was desired, and Waste Management has agreed to perform this task. Those who offer recyclables would receive discount vouchers for use at local businesses, or for gifting to charity. The monthly charge to individual residents would rise only from $27.05 to $27.50. Pickup for garbage and recyclables would be weekly. Hiring Waste Management would also allow the Authority to sell two of its garbage trucks (and retain two for use in pickups by the Authority in office and tourism areas). Operations Director Ronny Smith added that yard waste would also be collected by Waste Management, and hauled away, saving the Authority the cost of grinding the yard waste. The Waste Management contract would be for one year, renewable for three years. Hooks emphasized that Smith had been certain to ensure that Waste Management would truly recycle the recyclables that they collect – there would be no fake recycling as had been rumored to have been done in the past. Waste Management will ship its recyclables to Pratt Recycling in Savannah. The new garbage/recycling contract was approved.
Jim Reed wondered whether the Park residents will need to put down deposits on recycling bins, or buy particular-sized containers? Answer: There will be no added cost for the provision of the recycling bins, unless perhaps individual residents desire to have several bins. Reed noted that at his Ohio community, recycling bins were sometimes stolen, so he recommended that this possibility be considered.
Pat Overholt wondered about the requirements for separation of types of recyclables, and about the origin of the bills? Answer: The recyclables can be combined – separation will occur after pickup. The bills will continue to come from the Park Authority.
Gloria Zocchi inquired about the acceptability of glass in the recyclables? Answer: Glass is acceptable, and will be sent to Savannah. Ronny Smith noted that Waste Management would hold a community forum to clarify their procedures. Zocchi asked about the start date for the Waste Management pickups? Answer: hopefully, 1 July 2011.
Chairman DeLoach called for and received approval of the minutes of the special Marketing Committee meeting held in March to discuss future marketing directions.
Marketing Director Eric Garvey described his recent “hardhat tours” of the new convention-center area. One tour group (the Georgia Environmental Conference) has reserved convention space for 2013 (600 attendees and 1000 room nights). The Marketing Department’s Dream Wedding Giveaway has engaged a sponsor, The Knot, a major wedding magazine. A wide variety of advertising venues will soon be promoting Summer Waves and Fins on the Beach. Bloggers (e.g., Uptake.com) have been visiting the Park, and have put positive reviews and descriptive articles on the Web. In the next issue of Coastal Living, the Beachview Club will be featured. The Easter Egg Stroll was coming up during the week, and was expected to be a hit, as usual. The hotels have been reporting the results of their projections for their business outlooks over 30 days to 12 months; all hotels have at least an even balance of positive and negative sections of forecasts, and many projections have been “good” or “very good”.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Director Hooks reported a proposed agreement between the Park Authority and the Georgia DOT, according to which the Authority will take over landscape maintenance of the portion of the Jekyll Causeway where the greeting station will be moving (the current location of the Welcome Center). The Board approved the agreement.
Hooks remarked that the Convention Center construction is on schedule/budget (the walls have nearly all been erected), as is the plan for moving of the greeting station (construction of the new entry corridor is planned to begin in August 2011). The large (thousands of gallons), cistern system is being installed for the Convention Center. Variances from the marsh-buffer restrictions have been sought to permit connecting the bike paths of the Historic District to the paths near the entry corridor.
The partners in the building of the Beach Village have been requested to provide public updates at the May JISPA Board meeting. Drawings of planned structures and schedules for construction are expected.
Three hundred and three residential-rental licenses have been issued, bringing the total number of homes to be potentially available for renting to more than one-half of the total.
Two potential purchasers are continuing to consider taking over the Oceanfront Resort. In the meantime, the bank is keeping up the payments to the Park Authority.
Three firms have submitted qualifications by the deadline, for managing the new Convention Center. Review showed that all three firms were qualified to submit proposals for the management contract. Recommendation of one of these firms is expected to be made prior to the JISPA Board meeting in June.
JISPA planned to announce a new Adopt A Beach program during Earth Day. The College of Coastal Georgia conducted a beach sweep on 2 April, in conjunction with the organization Keep Brunswick and the Golden Isles Beautiful. Adopters would be encouraged to take a section of the Park’s beaches, and pledge to keep it clean with at least 4 sweeps per year like that performed by the College on 2 April.
Twenty-nine convention groups have now signed on for the new Convention Center for 2012, with another 9 agreements pending. For 2013, there are now 50 letters of intent from convention groups.
Water aerobics will be available to Park residents this summer (June and July) at Summer Waves, starting the first Wednesday in June (Mon – Fri, 8:30-9:30, with an instructor on Tues & Thurs, and lifeguards on the other days). The Georgia Sea Turtle Camp has enjoyed enough success that it has been decided to expand the program to eight 1-week sessions.
Chairman Krueger announced the establishment of an Executive Review Committee, which will review the compensation and performance of the Park’s Executive Director. Committee members will be Richard Royal, Mike Hodges, Sybil Lynn, and Bob Krueger as Committee Chairman.
Krueger reported that after discussions with Georgia DOT, the Park Authority has proposed establishment of terrapin-crossing zones on the Jekyll Causeway. Within these areas of high levels of terrapin movement, the speed limit would be lowered to 45 mph.
The May JISPA Board meeting will be pushed back to the fourth Monday of the month.
Frank Mirasola noted that construction equipment has been in use at the south end of the Oceanside Inn, and inquired about the goals there? Answer: Some structural improvements are being made.
Chairman Krueger adjourned the meeting at 10:42 AM.
Respectfully submitted, Steven Y. Newell, Jekyll Island Citizens Association