Record of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority (JISPA) Board Meeting of 20 June 2011, in the Morgan Center 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 Buddy DeLoach, Mike Hodges, and Sybil Lynn. Steve Croy, Laura Lanier, and Mark Williams were on conferen http://www.jekyllisland.com/Conservation.aspxce telephone, along with Nancy Gallagher (AG’s Office) and legal counsel Adam Kirk. Also present was Park Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks. The audience numbered about 24 persons.
CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION
Dr. Terry Norton provided an update on the Conservation Plan preparation. AECOM is putting the final version of the Plan together based on the last set of public comments, comments by the Conservation Planning Committee, and Director Hooks. The final version of the Plan will be posted on the Authority website on 1 July, 2011, with final presentation of the Plan to the Park Authority Board on 18 July, 2011 (at the July Board meeting).
Chairman Hodges reported total revenue for the month of May of $1.7 million (8% over budget). Year–to-date total revenue was $15,789,000 (3% over budget). Net operating income for May was $299,000 ($154,000 over budget). Year-to-date net income was $797,000 ($582,000 over budget). Accounting Director Marjorie Johnson noted that incoming traffic to the Park was reduced last month by the fact that the Glynn Academy graduation was not held in the Park (amounting to a loss of 800 vehicle entries). Over 2000 of the passes sold to the College of Coastal Georgia have been used to enter the Park since the college-pass program was initiated.
Chairman Hodges observed that there are likely to be funds available for capital expenditures in this fiscal year, ending this month. Director Hooks listed proposed spending, including already approved golf-course and causeway ground-maintenance equipment.
Hodges laid out the budget figures for the next fiscal year, beginning 1 July 2011. The total revenue budgeted is $18.6 million, and net operating income of $886, 754. Chairman Krueger proposed that $29,000 in residual funds be put into the next fiscal year’s spending, and used as discretionary salary for the purpose of retaining key staff. Buddy DeLoach complimented staff for their “excellent” work on the budget for the next fiscal year. Hodges agreed, and looked forward to bigger budgets in the future. Director Hooks reminded everyone that next fiscal year is likely to be the tightest recent financial stretch for the Park, followed by what he hoped would be the “light at the end of the tunnel”. Director Hooks worried about the sustainability of proper benefits and compensation for the Park Authority staff.
The Board approved changes in dates included in the ground lease for Chatrala Group (the mid-priced hotel in the forthcoming Beach Village; opening date has been changed to 31 August 2012). Also approved were changes in the project development agreement with Winding Road (the retail complex in the forthcoming Village; financial closing moved to 15 October 2011; lease delivery date moved to 15 September 2011).
Communications Director Eric Garvey called upon Sales Director Kevin Udell to describe current results in the booking of conventions. Udell observed that since April 2011, his group has arranged confirmed or probable business of $4.3 million for the Park’s hotels. Thirty-one convention groups have either committed or shown great interest in meeting in the Park’s convention facilities. Marketing of the Park’s convention facilities in the Atlanta area has been a major focus recently, and Debbie Webb has been hired to head up the Atlanta promotions (since March, Webb has enlisted $1.5 million in probable economic impact for the Park, translating to 17 new convention groups). Udell introduced Webb to the audience, complimenting her enthusiasm and noting her widespread connections in the Atlanta area. Webb expressed her pleasure at being able to broadcast the news about the renewing of the convention area in Jekyll Island State Park. Udell noted that by the end of 2011, his staff will have hosted some 100 potential convention groups in the monthly “familiarization tours” to the Park, in which Garvey, Hooks, and Project Manager Jim Broadwell participate.
Communications Specialist Erica England summarized recent public outreach by the marketing group. An example of media coverage is the recent naming of Jekyll Island State Park as a “great American beach town”. Southern Living’s website listed the Park as a top-twelve essential destination for kids (the Park was number 6 on the list, just ahead of Washington, DC’s museums). The Sunday Times of London published a piece emphasizing the attractions in the Park’s Historic District, and CNN Travel complimented the Park as a best coastal destination. Several major travel websites have recently covered the Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC) and its activities. ABC will be including the GSTC in its upcoming Ocean Mysteries series. On the Park’s Facebook page, the number of active users is approaching 13,000.
Garvey noted that his surveying of participants in the Turtle Crawl Triathlon showed that 47% had stayed overnight out of the Park, demonstrating that the Park’s events have economic impact across the Glynn County area. Also, 94% of the participants stated that they are planning to return in 2012. Director Hooks interjected the fact that during the triathlon, the Park’s hotels were at virtually 100% occupancy. Hooks also introduced the new coordinated-apparel look that the marketing staff will now be sporting.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Director Hooks observed that the recent untimely death of Bill Foster was a shock to the Park Authority personnel, who had enjoyed working with Foster in his job with Thomas & Hutton.
Hooks remarked that the new Convention Center is now 47% complete. There will be a slight delay in putting together the new entry corridor to the Park, due to inclusion of changes recommended by staff. The call for proposals was to go out in mid-June, but will now be held up by a month or so.
Hooks complimented the Authority’s landscaping personnel on their clean-up after the recent heavy thunderstorms. Some very large pines were lost. The Fire Department and Cade Stepp’s crew also got involved in handling fallen trees.
Staff legal counsel Chris O’Donnell has contacted the folks in charge of the Jekyll Oceanfront Resort property to notify them of potential storm damage. Legal recourse against the protracted inactivity at the Oceanfront is being considered.
The residential trash/litter/recycling contract with Waste Management has been finalized, but it will not go into effect until 1 August 2011.
Hooks described his and Eric Garvey’s visit to Atlanta with representatives of future co-marketers at Young International Beverages. The restaurant at the airport in Atlanta where Jekyll promotions are proposed to take place will be a Sweet George’s Juke Joint (which Hooks assured everyone will be a very respectable eatery).
AT&T recently announced that their two new antenna sites would improve cellphone service on the north and south ends of the Park, and in the Historic District. However, the service in the Historic District has not been improved, so further work is needed on this problem. O’Donnell has been discussing sharing of cell-tower space between Verizon and AT&T.
Discussions have been held with Georgia DOT regarding improvement of signage for the Park along Interstate 95 (Jekyll Island does not appear on any of the green exit signs at Exit 29).
Hooks has discussed with State auditors the reserve accounts held at various Park businesses, reserves designed to be used for future, necessary refurbishings. Hooks wants to ensure that these accounts are kept as promised, so that when updating is required, the funds will be available.
The restoration work at Dubignon Cottage is underway. It may look a little shabby just now, but soon it will shine again. Forty thousand dollars of the $90,000 restoration came from the Friends of Historic Jekyll Island.
A $250,000 grant has been received to enable connection of mainland bike paths to the paths in Jekyll Island State Park, bringing the Park into the Coastal Greenway circuit.
Hooks noted that the proposed Beach Use Ordinance has not reached the stage at which it is ready for first reading.
Chairman Krueger noted that Georgia Trend magazine has published an article discussing the growth in the Golden Isles area, and Jekyll Island State Park figured in that discussion. He expressed hope that the promotional project with Young International at the Atlanta airport works out, so that the Jekyll brand is seen by folks who pass through that busy airport.
Gloria Zocchi inquired about acquisition of new pumps for watering the golf courses? Answer: $55,000 has just been approved for this purchase. Operations Director Ronny Smith clarified that this new purchase will be for an interim fix, until more funds are available (a $400,000 pumping station is needed). It is planned to dig out one of the lakes on Oleander Course, make it bigger, and make it a freshwater lake (two capped Miocene wells are available).
Chairman Krueger adjourned the meeting at 10:40 AM.
Steven Y. Newell, Jekyll Island Citizens Association; produced after transcribing from a digital voice recorder