Record of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority (JISPA) Board Meeting of 18 January 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 Mike Hodges, Laura Lanier, Sybil Lynn, and Steve Croy. Richard Royal and legal counsel Adam Kirk were on conference telephone. DNR Coastal Resources Director Spud Woodward sat in for DNR Commissioner Mark Williams. Also present was Park Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks. The audience numbered about 23 persons.
CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION
Chairman Royal observed that the most recent draft of the Park's Conservation Plan was placed on the
Jekyll Island Authority website on the 4th of January. To read the draft and appended documents, click here. Public input will be accepted through 11 February. The Conservation Committee (along with the two public representatives, Al Tate and Steve Newell) will meet on 9 February, 9:00 AM until completion of discussions. The next public meeting to review the newest draft of the Conservation Plan will be on 23 February, 5:30-7:30 PM.
Director Hooks announced that the Georgia Sea Turtle Center will be applying for a Coastal Incentive Grant (DNR) to support building upon its extraordinary success and expanding its facilities. Director Terry Norton has proposed the preparation of an architectural plan to be funded by the Incentive Grant in the amount of $100,000. The architectural plan will be based on 5-year projections for the Center. A 1:1 match will be required of the Park Authority. The Board approved the submission of this proposal.
Chairman Hodges reported administrative income for December of about $588,000 ($9,000 over budget, primarily due to parking fees which were $21,000 over budget). The enterprise income for December was $533,000 ($84,000 under budget). Total revenue for the month, $1,122,000, was about 6% under budget. For the first six months of the fiscal year, total revenues were $90.2 million, about $163,000 above budget, and about $667,000 over the previous fiscal year. Net operating income was -$109,000 for December, 92% worse than budget, but was a little over $1 million for the first six months of the fiscal year, $449,000 better than budgeted (hotel nights used by the X-Men crew helped). Director Hooks noted that his staff has canvassed area campgrounds, and learned that they suffered financially in December also.
Accounting Director Marjorie Johnson noted that 556 students from the Coastal College have used their Park-entry stickers since August. Chairman Hodges expressed pleasure at the good results of the partnership with the Coastal College.
For the 12 months of 2010 calendar year, hotel revenue in the Park was $22.623 million, or $2.6 million better than 2009, primarily because of the contribution of the new Hampton Inn.
Chairman Hodges introduced the issue of the ground lease for the Chatrala Group, the group which will build the mid-price hotel in the new Beach Village. The lease will follow what was outlined in the original Project Development Agreement with Chatrala. Key points: 2.25 acres will be used; the lease will run to 7 Jan 2089; there will be 134 rooms; rent will be $1,000 per month until the hotel opens, at which time the rent will rise to $2,000 per acre per month plus a percentage of room revenues; base rent will increase with CPI every five years; reserve accounts and security deposits will be required. Anticipated investment will be about $18 million. Steve Croy remarked that the Park Authority has done a good job in securing the lease at the rate stated in the PDA, since leases elsewhere have had to be reduced under current economic conditions. Adam Kirk requested some new wording in the lease giving latitude to the State Attorney General's Office to review and ask for revisions. The Board approved the lease.
A capital-improvements request for the purchase of six golf-course lawn mowers and one landscape mower was introduced. Total cost of the mowers would be $204,203, spread out over several months. The Board approved the purchase.
Marketing Director Eric Garvey announced that registration for the 2011 Turtle Crawl Triathlon is now open online. Several new sponsors for this event have come on board (e.g. CytoSport's Muscle Milk). Also, Nalley Automotive has agreed to be an Annual Sponsor of Park events; total value of that agreement is about $35,000. Garvey praised his Events staff, who recently managed the marketing of the Music & Merlot event (Atlanta Symphony concert at Morgan Center; about 350 tickets were sold). The Events staff will soon be discussing potential new events and changes to events currently planned. Letters of intent for conventions are now being secured for future years. Currently 22 letters of intent are in hand for the new facilities (the forthcoming new Convention Center to be erected alongside the new Beach Village). Several travel magazines and websites have run articles on the Park (e.g. Mother Nature Website).
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Director Hooks observed that the new Flash Foods/Dairy Queen will open before 1 February, and invited the Board members to tour the site following the morning's meeting.
The Georgia DOT has approved the move of the Greeting Station back to the Welcome Center on the causeway. The working drawings of the move will be used to bid out the project on 3 February. The second entrance roundabout, at the east end of the bridge entering the Park, is now being planned; the Coastal Greenway bike project is being kept in mind in this work.
The X-Men movie people have begun moving the set pieces and trees from the beach location. The area should be cleared out by 1 February. Then the sand will be relocated to points specified by the Park Authority to repair and rehabilitate the dune structure at the movie site.
Hooks reminded the group that the continuance of the use of the Park by the Atlanta Symphony and its students (Franklin Pond) was a favorite issue pursued by the late Ben Porter. Hooks remarked that on 29 July 2011, the Franklin Pond group will be back in the Park. All of the proceeds from the Music & Merlot concert will go to the Jekyll Island Foundation. The Foundation held its first Annual Appeal, which in just a few months raised $14,000, and had $4,000 in brick sales for the Turtle Center.
The last of the repaving of the Historic District, with oyster-shell concrete, is underway now, on Riverview Drive near the 3-way stop, in front of the Cottages there. There will also be a new bike path there, connecting to the other new bike-path improvements. Given good weather, this project is expected to be completed by the end of February.
Hooks announced a goal of 60 letters of intent for use of the new Convention Center from December 2011 on. Hooks observed that the Board has asked that the new Convention Center be operated by a qualified facilities-management group. In light of that, Hooks' staff has begun to arrange a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to be advertised, to be followed by a Request for Proposals (RFP). It is important that the new operating group be signed on, to assist with obtaining the 60 letters of intent. Hooks offered to provide copies of the Request for Qualifications to the Board members for their review. It is hoped that the responses to the RFQs would come in by the end of March. Chairman Krueger noted that it is the Board's plan to move all Park enterprise functions to private management groups. The Board approved the plan.
Hooks reported that the Naming Committee has selected a new name for Blackbeard's Restaurant – "Fins on the Beach". MMI, the management group now running Blackbeard's, has held off on extensive changes at the restaurant until there was a total revamp, including the name change. An overall rollout of the new restaurant is planned for March. The renaming proposal was met with silence. The Board suggested that the new name be held back for now, while they consider other options.
Director Hooks observed that of 617 residential leases, 604 have been executed and signed. Eleven lessees have declined to sign the new lease, and 2 lessees have not responded. The Park Authority has been unable to contact these 2 lessees, who will have to stay with the old lease contract. Both of these lessees did receive at least one of the final certified notification letters. There have now been 233 rental licenses obtained by residential lessees.
Chairman Krueger expressed pleasure at the nearness to completion of the gas station/Dairy Queen, and at the good reception that the interim Convention Campus has received, and the attendance of some folks from as far away as Savannah at the Music & Merlot event at the Morgan Center.
David Kyler (Center for a Sustainable Coast, CSC) noted that the first $350,000 of the money for the Coastal Georgia Greenway came through CSC some 10 years ago, and he was glad to see that it is now becoming of some use to Jekyll Island State Park. Kyler then broached the subject of the method used by Georgia DNR/CRD to allow Twentieth Century Fox to alter the beach at the site used to film part of the X-Men movie. A "Letter of Permission" (LOP) was issued, rather than a full-fledged permit from the Shore Protection Committee. There is no provision for issuance of LOPs, which sidestep public input, in the Shore Protection Act. Although LOPs have been used for temporary projects by DNR for many years, they are not provided for by law. The Southern Environmental Law Center has sent a letter to the Brunswick office of DNR/CRD notifying DNR that LOP issuance is unlawful. Director Woodward has forwarded that letter on to the State Attorney General's Office. Kyler hoped that the Attorney General would soon provide a legal opinion on the matter. Kyler also hoped that, if LOPs were to be retained, the legal review would lead to a codification of the LOP process, with inclusion of public review.
Joe Malbasa added his congratulations to those heard ealier regarding the Music & Merlot event. It was one of the singular, most enjoyable events that he has attended since he moved to this area some 8 years ago. Chairman Krueger remarked that it may be that the Amphitheatre area can eventually be rejuvenated, so that more cultural events can be held there also.
Chairman Krueger adjourned the meeting at 10:35 AM.
Steven Y. Newell, Jekyll Island Citizens Association