Record of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority (JISPA) Board Meeting of 20 August 2012, in the Jekyll Island Convention Center, as recorded for JICA

Note: IPJI has placed some text in "bold" type for emphasis and has clarified
some statements in blue.

Chairman Bob Krueger brought the meeting to order at 9:30 AM.  Board members present were Buddy DeLoach, Mike Hodges, Al Ike, Sybil Lynn, and Richard Royal.  Steve Croy, Laura Lanier, Mark Williams and Nancy Gallagher (AG’s Office) were on conference telephone.  Also present was Park Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks.  The audience numbered about 28 persons.

COMMITTEE SESSIONS

CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION

Georgia Sea Turtle Center Director Dr. Terry Norton presented to the Board a description of the exceptionally hard work that Gary Buckles has done as a volunteer at the Center.  Buckles recently received the Ed Drane Award for Volunteerism (see http://www.seaturtlesociety.org/forms/award_nomination_form.shtml).  Buckles has been a Center volunteer since the Center’s opening, and has worked exceptionally hard in both the rehabilitation program and the beach-patrol program, without any financial compensation.  Buckles’ usual starting time is about 5:00 AM, to begin a full day.

Langford Holbrook of the Fanning Institute updated the Board on the revising of the Park’s Master Plan.  Holbrook announced that the expert-Task-Force efforts and the public-participation programs are nearing completion.  Holbrook stated that he would be doing interviews with outside experts and focus groups during the week, and that the Task Force committees would be meeting for the third time at the end of the week.  The Task Force working on the application of Georgia’s 65/35 law (the Park must not be developed beyond 35% of its upland acreage) is focusing on two main issues: mapping (essentially, where the protected salt marsh ends and the upland begins) and definitions of developed/undeveloped acreage.  Holbrook’s meetings with stakeholder groups include JICA, Senator Ligon, Representative Atwood, Coastal College President Valerie Hepburn, Brunswick Development Authority, and DNR/CRD.  He is seeking their ideas on the drafting of the new Master Plan.  All of the interview material, and Task Force advisory information will feed into the work of the Steering Committee (composed of Authority staff and individual members of Task Forces).  The Steering Committee will prepare a draft outline of the new Plan.  Fanning will then write the first draft of the Plan during October/November 2012.

Mindy Egan complimented the work of the facilitators from Fanning Institute who have worked with the Task Force committees to help generate the necessary advisory positions to be submitted to the Steering Committee.

FINANCE

Chairman Hodges presented figures for the months of June and July.  Net operating cash income for the month of June was $125 thousand (57% below budget), and for the month of July $1.34 million (10% above budget).  For the fiscal year ending 30 June, net income was $920 thousand (72% above budget).

Chairman Hodges reported that the Georgia State Department of Audits had performed an audit of the revenues received from the Park’s hotels.  The result was that some hotels had overpaid the Park Authority, and some had underpaid.  In summary, the Park Authority was underpaid by about $99 thousand.  Checks were to be written to the hotels that overpaid, and invoices were to be given to the hotels underpaying.  Buddy DeLoach inquired whether the problem was mainly an income-timing issue?  Answer: no; it is more a case of differing interpretations of lease and revenue-submission agreements.

Hodges announced a capital-equipment request for ten items totaling $125 thousand (e.g. two riding mowers, solar speed-limit signs, etc.).  Chairman Krueger asked that two items be eliminated from the list: new lockers for Summer Waves and the solar speed-limit signs, totaling $17 thousand.  The request was approved with the two deletions.

MARKETING

Sales Director Kevin Udell summarized Convention Center activity since the grand opening in May.  Forty events have been hosted (37,000 delegates), more than anticipated.  The first wedding was held in July, and 5 more are contracted for 2012.  Site visits by meeting planners have been continuing and have been successful.  Twenty-nine site visits have been hosted since July.  Thirty-three proposals have been sent out since July.  Some social events are being arranged, including a nationally televised boxing event, a mixed-martial-arts competition (drawing four to five thousand fans), and a Motown Christmas Concert.  Attendance by Park marketers at meeting-planners conventions is continuing.  The ACCG (Association of County Commissioners of Georgia) is having its 100th anniversary, and their anniversary convention is being sought for 2014.  The Georgia Food Industry is considering convening in the Park in 2015 and 2016, as are several other groups that had formerly regularly used the Park.  This was a group that had previously rejected the idea of returning its conventions to Jekyll Island State Park.

The first health inspection of the Convention Center resulted in a score of 100.

The recent Beach Music Festival had its big on-the-beach day on the only non-rainy day of the weekend on which it was held.  Several thousand attendees enjoyed the music on the beach, and Communications Director Eric Garvey complimented Events Director Beth Burnsed and Operations Director Ronny Smith for their excellent organizing- and managing-work with the Festival.

Garvey noted that the Park’s Marketing Division can now produce its own television commercials and other videos and printed materials in-house (compliments of Boyd Martin).  The Division has also earned a strong reputation within the State for its use of social media as a marketing venue.  For example, the Division makes use of GroupOn discounts at distant markets (e.g. St. Augustine) to drive business to the Park.

Garvey recently met with Delta Airlines representatives regarding the connecting flight that the Delta Connection provides between Brunswick and Atlanta.  Delta would like to get the flights up to 80% filled (from about 70), after which they might add another flight.  Garvey argued that the Jekyll Convention Center is likely to be a focus of air travel to Brunswick, and the airlines may use slightly larger planes at select times of heavy convention travel.  In 3 to 4 years, it is likely that Delta will move from 50-seat planes to 70-seat planes, if air travel to Brunswick increases a little.

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Director Hooks announced that design of the Retail Center in the forthcoming Beach Village is underway, and interviews with entrepreneurs wishing to take part in the Center are being held.

A new partner is being sought for Phelps Development and its Hyatt Place project.  A candidate has met with Hooks and Project Director Jim Broadwell, and with the Hyatt people.

The Westin Hotel has had its loan commitment from PNC Bank placed on hold, because the tourism tax breaks that had been promised by the State have not been put into effect.  It is not currently clear how this obstacle will be removed.

The new parking-fee plaza is very near completion, and the collection devices have been undergoing tests.  Holders of decals will be notified that they will not need to change anything; they will be able to go through the decal lane as usual.  The ribbon-cutting for the collection station and new information center is scheduled for the date of the September JISPA Board meeting.  The Guest Information Center is being totally remodeled and remerchandised.

The Phase 3 (St. Andrews area) project of the bike trail completion has been awarded to Woodard Construction, and work should be underway in September.  Design work for the causeway bike trail has begun.

The bank that had foreclosed on the Jekyll Oceanfront leasehold has received FDIC approval to market that holding for $5 million, down from $7.3 million and $6.2 million.

The application for a permit to construct an elevated bike path west of Riverview Drive over the salt marsh near the Historic District was approved by the Marsh Protection Committee.  Construction should begin this fall on this and the bike paths along Captain Wylly Road.

Jekyll Island State Park did not win money in the America’s Favorite Parks Contest held by Coca Cola, but it just missed (came in 4th).  Hooks complimented Nancy Kring Rowan and Mindy and David Egan for their great efforts on this project promoting the Park.  It is presently uncertain whether an effort of this kind will take place next year.  Controversy associated with methods used to submit multiple votes may cause Coca Cola to abandon the contest.

An enforcement officer (Phil Lyons) has been hired by the Park to try to deter violators of the Park’s ordinances.  Lyons is a former law-enforcement officer.  Lyons will be reporting to the Park’s Legal Division, rather than to the Fire Department.

Al Ike inquired about the timing of the opening of the new collection plaza?  Answer: it will be functional as soon as the official ribbon-cutting happens.

CHAIRMAN'S COMMENTS

Chairman Krueger congratulated Steve Croy on his reappointment to the Park’s Board by Governor Deal.  Krueger noted that Rep. Mark Hamilton has been appointed to the Jekyll Island State Park Legislative Oversight Committee as its chairperson for 2012.  Rep. John Burns was also appointed to fill a vacant seat.  On the Senate side, Ross Tolleson, William Ligon, and Frank Ginn were appointed.  Krueger remarked that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle had recently visited the Park, and was very positively impressed by the new convention facilities.

Mindy Egan complimented the volunteer efforts of the participants in the advisory Task Forces (many of whom must travel from afar) who are working to assist in the preparation of the update to the Park’s Master Plan.  Egan also observed that Senator Ed Boshears (former Park Authority Board member who recently passed away) would be very happy with the progress that has been made in renovation of the Park’s facilities.

Gloria Zocchi encouraged the Park Authority to make bike-trail maps more available.  She also asked about the future of the Park’s IGA store, because of a rumor that it would close soon?  Answer: no information is now available regarding that [NB: it was subsequently reported in the Brunswick News that the IGA’s owner was seeking a buyer so that he could retire from the business].  Zocchi also asked whether Beachscape would continue to be published and handed out at the new collection plaza?  Answer: Beachscape will continue to be published, but distribution will be handled a little differently.

Thorny Parker hoped that Waste Management would alter its recycling pickup methods so that more material could be placed on the curb, and be safe from raccoons.  Parker also felt that the personal touch now afforded visitors at the collection station should not be lost with the opening of the new collection plaza.  Parker commended the Board for its good work in renovating the Park.

Chairman Krueger adjourned the Committee Meeting at 10:48 AM.Respectfully submitted,
Steven Y. Newell, Jekyll Island Citizens Association; produced after transcribing from a digital voice recorder