Record of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority (JISPA) Board Meeting of 18 June 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 Mike Hodges, Laura Lanier, Richard Royal, and Mark Williams. Buddy DeLoach and Al Ike were on conference telephone. Also present was Park Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks. The audience numbered about 36 persons.
CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION:
Director of Conservation Ben Carswell described progress toward the goal of determining the size and health of the Park’s deer population. Carswell noted that last year’s survey of the population indicated that there may be an overly large deer population on the Island. It has been decided that last year’s study was not thorough enough to justify beginning population-control efforts. Carswell proposed to the Board that a herd health assessment be conducted. There would be a determination of potential negative effects of the current size of the deer population. Turtle Center Director Terry Norton, the Wildlife Resources Division of Georgia DNR, and the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine; see <http://www.vet.uga.edu/scwds/>) would be involved, and the data collection would take place during the first week of August, 2012. Humane sacrifice of five individual deer would take place, and necropsies would be undertaken to assess numerous indicators of health. These five deer would be taken at night at remote locations in the Park. No population-control measures would be put into effect until and unless it is determined that the population size is damaging deer health. In addition to the health assessments, last year’s population-size estimation would be repeated, with refinements to improve accuracy. The results of the health assessment should be available early in 2013.
Chairman Krueger introduced an amendment to the day’s meeting agenda regarding amendments to the fiscal 2012 budget, and this was approved. Chairman Hodges then reported that for the month of May there was net operating cash income of $127 thousand, which was $115 thousand more than had been budgeted. Net operating cash income for the fiscal year to date was $796 thousand, $547 thousand over budget, and flat with the prior year at this point.
Director Hooks announced capital requests. One was for matching funds for the Island Hopper bike trail grant from GA DOT; this work will connect the trails in Jekyll island State Park with mainland and other barrier-island trails. These matching funds ($62.5 thousand) would come from the FY2012 budget. The second request was for money to provide the final payment ($21 thousand) for the installation of a new gas pump in the Park’s maintenance lot. Hooks explained that the budget amendment that was added to the day’s agenda was for addition of $40 thousand for management fees for SMG to cover work done in connection with the opening of the new Convention Center. This work had been anticipated to fall in the next fiscal year, but was completed earlier. All of the budget requests were approved.
In June, the Board’s Finance Committee met and heard Accounting Director Marjorie Jones and Director Hooks describe their proposed budget for FY2013. A basic problem with preparing the budget was that there are currently not enough rooms open for the conventioneers that have been booked for the new Convention Center (about 340 rooms are still only in the planned phase). Expenses in each department have been closely examined for FY13. Increase in costs of basic essentials (e.g. medicines for the Sea Turtle Center) has also been a problem. It has been concluded that the budget cannot be balanced without an increase in the Parking Fee. The Finance Committee approved an increase in the daily Fee to $6.00 (the $45 annual decal fee will stay the same), and a change in the $10.00 daily bus fee to a $10.00 oversize-vehicle fee, with the option of an oversize-vehicle annual decal fee of $90. (Oversize vehicles would be defined as 15-passenger buses and large delivery vehicles, not suburbans.) The weekly pass would increase to $28. The distribution of the Parking Fee monies is made more clear than in previous budgets. Although there has been a sharp increase in employee-benefit costs, it is felt that the Park’s employees should receive a 2% merit raise in salaries (the last similar raise came in August of 2010). Because the number of Park employees has been trimmed somewhat, the total salary line in the FY13 budget is flat with that of FY10. Chairman Hodges emphasized that the increase in the Parking Fee was accepted only after very careful examination of expenses and revenues. Director Hooks noted that other Georgia State Parks with financial stature comparable to Jekyll Island State Park have daily entry fees greater than $6, and annual passes similar to that of JISP (but in some cases, the annual passes are not honored on special dates such as 4 July). The Board approved the FY13 budget, and Chairman Krueger commended the staff and the Finance Committee for the job that they have done in preparing the FY13 budget.
Clay Smith inquired about the definition of the “Island Hopper Trail”? Answer: It is part of the Coastal Greenway Biking Trail, from FL to SC. Part of it will run parallel to the Jekyll Causeway, and connect the Jekyll trails to trails on St. Simons Island.
Human Resources Director Cornell Harvey presented faithful service awards to four retirees from the Park Authority. The four were: Marilyn Krakowski (15 years in the Welcome Center, finishing as Information Specialist); Marci Clark (15 years at the Convention Center, finishing as Convention Services Supervisor); Luther Pelzer (17 years, finishing as Executive Chef at the Convention Center); Jody O’Neill (31 years at the Golf Course, finishing as Director of Golf).
Communications Director Eric Garvey presented the new logo and brand that will be used by the Park’s Marketing Division. They are intended to depict and emphasize the balance between the Park’s unspoiled nature and the nurturing of the Park’s visitors. (See the new date-palm logo at the top of this web page: http://www.jekyllisland.com/Conservation.aspx.)
Mary Butin of The Butin Group (the Park’s consultant as publicist) described her work in publicizing the opening of the new Jekyll Island Convention Center. It was her goal for the Nation and the world to learn that the Park is a great destination for conventioneers. Butin complimented Director Hooks for his work in accepting interviews by media persons interested in transmitting the story of the new Convention Center. One example of the results of her work was that the Huffington Post (a large internet newspaper) listed Jekyll Island State Park as one of the top seven weekend getaway spots in the southern USA. Garvey played a video of a television commercial that is now running in the Atlanta area advertising Jekyll Island State Park as a new place for businesspeople to meet.
Mindy Egan suggested to DNR Commissioner Williams that he switch from promoting Sweetwater State Park as America’s Favorite Park (the Coca Cola contest) to promoting Jekyll Island State Park as the voting target.
Tise Eyler wondered why his AT&T phone does not work in the Convention Center? Answer: In spite of many requests, AT&T has not yet committed to providing its cellphone service inside the Convention Center, as have many of the other carriers. Eyler suggested that a WiFi hot spot be created in the Convention Center. Response: There already is a modern WiFi hot spot within the Convention Center.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE:
Director Hooks proposed an amendment to the contract with HHCP (the design and management firm that handled part of the planning and initiation of the building of the new Convention Center ; see http://www.jekyllisland.com/Conservation.aspx). The amendment would cover the part that it is proposed that HHCP would play in finalizing the Beach Village Retail Center. The cost of the amendment would not exceed $189 thousand. The Board approved the amendment.
Although the new Parking Fee station is now essentially complete, except for final landscaping, it will not be put into service until toward the end of the summer, to enable travelers to become used to the new arrangement of fee-collection buildings. A ribbon-cutting for the new Guest Information Center on the causeway will be held soon, and the marked redesign put on display.
The Riverview Bike Path construction (Phase 3) near the St. Andrews Picnic Area will begin shortly, and construction of the portion connecting the Historic District and the causeway, along with the causeway extensions to the Island Hopper Bike Trail will be underway after the summer.
Director Hooks observed that the policy of the Park Authority with regard to non-payment of water bills is to provide four warnings and a disconnect notice, and then cut off water service to the residence in question. A reconnect charge will be applied if the residence owner wishes to restart water service. The Park Authority is also closely monitoring residential rental licenses and bed-tax payments to ensure that residential renting is being conducted properly. Failure to remit tax payments can result in a $500 penalty.
Hooks announced that flashing warning signs linked to high tides (when terrapins come up onto the causeway) are not operative this year, but they will be next year, so that terrapin deaths from traffic accidents will hopefully decline. [NB: One such sign is indeed already operating facing incoming traffic near the causeway entrance.]
The Horton House historical re-enactment was recently held, and was attended by an audience of 650 visitors and residents.
Chairman Krueger read a letter from a former colleague of former Board member Ben Porter praising the new Ben Porter Salon in the new Convention Center; he thanked the Board for remembering Porter in such a fine manner. Krueger reminded all that the Board is just beginning the Park’s revitalization with the opening of the new Convention Center.
Pat Overholt expressed her concern about the safety of beachgoers when the seas are rough, and rip currents are present. She noted that personnel from the Jekyll Fire Department patrol the beach for safety purposes, but only at the time of tide change toward high tides, when swimmers could begin to be trapped on sandbars offshore. She described her observations of unsupervised child swimmers in rough surf, and persons walking in the dunes. She called for more beach monitoring by Park Authorities. Mindy Egan noted that other beaches in the area have flags of different colors posted to warn of unsafe conditions for swimming.
Frank Mirasola strongly commended Historic Resources Director John Hunter for the job he did with the Horton House re-enactment. Mirasola felt that this was truly an outstanding event. As an example of the quality of the event, Mirasola noted that the person who played General Oglethorpe mingled with the crowd, and never got out of character.
Tise Eyler observed that the traffic roundabout near the Convention Center can be hazardous – he had to maneuver quickly recently when someone entered it in the wrong direction. He suggested that a yellow line be painted to show the inner limit for vehicles, and that arrows be painted on the street to show the direction of traffic. Steve Newell passed along a suggestion from Susie Stewart that the yield signs in the roundabout be moved back some so that motorists approaching the roundabout are warned earlier that they must yield to traffic within the roundabout.
Gloria Zocchi requested that shades be pulled in the Convention Center at night so that bright interior lights cannot be seen on the beach, for protection of nesting sea turtles.
Chairman Krueger adjourned the Committee Meeting at 11:20 AM.
Steven Y. Newell, Jekyll Island Citizens Association; produced after transcribing from a digital voice recorder