Record of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority (JISPA) Board Meeting of 18 October 2010, at Chalets 3&4 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 De Loach, Mike Hodges, Sybil Lynn, and Richard Royal.  Local DNR Director (Coastal Resources Division) Spud Woodward sat in for former DNR Commissioner Chris Clark, who has taken a leading position with the State Chamber of Commerce (the position of  DNR Commissioner is currently open).  Also present was Park Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks.  The audience numbered about 35 persons.  Chairman Krueger opened the meeting by asking everyone to bow his/her head and have a moment of silence in memory of former Board member Ben Porter.  Krueger also welcomed members of the Board of the Jekyll Island Foundation to the meeting; the JISPA Board would meet with the Foundation Board later that day.

COMMITTEE SESSIONS

CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION

Chairman Royal requested that Sea Turtle Director Terry Norton provide an update (Dr. Norton is the Chair of the Conservation Plan Committee).  Norton announced that the Committee would meet that week, and that the next public meeting would probably take place during early December.  Norton revealed that the Committee has selected two public-liaison persons, whose major task will be to review drafts of the Conservation Plan prior to their finalization.  The two liaison persons, Drs. Steve Newell and Al Tate, were chosen for their expertise in the area of natural science.  Norton pointed out that Newell is a Park resident who has considerable experience working in saltmarsh ecosystems, and Tate is a former professor who has worked with Landscape Superintendent  Cliff Gawron on the changes to be made to the Jekyll Causeway.  Norton observed that the Committee is also establishing an Education Subcommittee composed of experts currently working in education in the Park (Donna Stewart, Director of 4H; Dawn Zenkert of Tidelands; Alicia Marin, Education Coordinator at the Sea Turtle Center; and Gloria Zocchi, retired educator, Park resident and regular volunteer at the Sea Turtle Center).  One goal of the Education Subcommittee is to look for redundancies and gaps among the organized educational activities in the Park.

FINANCE COMMITTEE

Chairman Hodges reported administrative income for the month of September of $536 thousand (8% above budget); parking fees were $62 thousand over budget.  Enterprise income was $533 thousand ($31 thousand under budget).  The Sea Turtle Center was about $54 thousand under budget, largely due to an inventory-reporting problem, which is being examined currently.  Total income for September was $1.05 million, $5 thousand over budget.  For the first three months of the fiscal year, total income was $420 thousand, 8% better than the first three months of the previous fiscal year.

Expenses for September were $1.3 million, 3% under budget.  Increased electricity rates contributed to this result.  For the first three months of the fiscal year, expenses are about $320 thousand over last FY's first three months, largely due to human-resources expenses, especially insurance.  The net operating income for September was a smaller deficit than expected (-$260 thousand).  Net operating income for the first three months of the fiscal year was $1.44 million, $500 thousand over budget, and $100 thousand better than in the previous fiscal year.

Accounting Director Marjorie Johnson reported that Greeting Station revenues were up 13%, primarily due to traffic coming to the Shrimp & Grits Festival, and a motorcycle rally.  Chairman Hodges observed that September revenue per available hotel room dropped slightly in 2010, to $53.

Director Hooks announced that after a morning conference call (including Authority lawyer Adam Kirk), Twentieth Century Fox (TCF) and the Park Authority have reached agreement on locations, financial issues, confidentiality statements, operating and name-use rights, and appropriate crediting for the use of the Park for shooting parts of the next X-Men movie.  The Board approved the draft agreement with TCF, and gave Director Hooks the right to sign the final contract as approved by the Park's lawyer.

Hooks disclosed a plan to resurface the porous bicycle paths running south of the gas station into the maritime forest east of Summer Waves.  The supporting plastic material beneath the gravel is now becoming exposed, and new surface material is needed.  It is also proposed that  more trash receptacles be placed along the path, in anticipation of more refuse coming as a result of purchases at the new gas station/convenience store/Dairy Queen.  United Land Management's bid of $16,160 was the lowest.  It is proposed that SPLOST monies be used for this project.  Chairman Hodges inquired about the amount of SPLOST monies available to the Park?  Answer (Operations Director Ronny Smith): a total of $3 million, with $400,000 now spendable.  Steve Croy asked about categories of expenditure that can be addressed with the SPLOST monies?  Answer: about $1 million for resurfacing parking lots, close to $1 million for bike-trail repairs, $0.5 million for drainage improvements, and about $0.5 million for beach-access construction.  The proposed resurfacing of the porous bike paths was approved.

Gloria Zocchi stated that although Director Hooks wisely avoided paying early attention to the bike paths in front of his new Captain Wylly home, he has, in her opinion, been resident long enough that he can now direct his attention to the portions of the Captain Wylly paths that are in poor condition.  Hooks agreed emphatically.

PERSONNEL COMMITTEE

Director Hooks noted that a person who was rescued from high tides on Driftwood Beach had written a commendation letter to the Jekyll Fire & Rescue people for the quick arrival of the rescue crew.  Hooks also remarked that another letter of thanks had come from someone whose injured daughter had been expeditiously calmed and treated by Summer Waves and Jekyll Fire & Rescue personnel.

MARKETING COMMITTEE

New Chairman Buddy DeLoach called upon Marketing Director Eric Garvey.  Garvey summarized the major events of the last several months, including the recent Birding & Nature Festival, and the Tri-Red Triathlon.  He played a voicemail message from someone in Athens who had stopped vacationing in the Park some time ago, but had decided to participate in the Triathlon.  He and his family discovered that Jekyll Island State Park is a wonderful place to visit, and he vowed to return many times.  Garvey announced that over 400 golfers will participate in the GA-FL golf tournament, and that the GA Alumni Oyster Roast will be held in Great Dunes Park (and attendance is not limited to UGA alumni).

Analysis of the Shrimp & Grits Festival led to the following revelations: approximately 20,000 visitors attended the September Festival, generating about $1.3 million in economic impact to the local area; sponsorship support was increased to $70,000; over 90 arts-and-crafts vendors participated in the Festival; 88% of guests surveyed rated the Festival experience as very good or excellent.

Garvey discussed plans for bringing in convention groups to the new Jekyll Island State Park Convention Center.  He believes that the rate of convention contracting will ramp up quickly once the new Convention Center begins to rise from the ground.

Garvey noted that Jekyll Island State Park received considerable publicity in connection with the PGA's McGladrey Classic Tournament on St. Simon's Island.

Lucien DeBacker offered two comments.  1) It was DeBacker's opinion that sentiment regarding volunteering to help with Park functions has been damaged by moves to hire professional assistants to supervise or replace Park residents in their volunteer work.  DeBacker felt that the volunteers at last year's GA/FL golf events had gained the general impression that the supervisors were given the responsibility of ensuring that the volunteers did not help themselves to excessive taking of beverages and food.  More recently, it is DeBacker's view that resident-volunteer numbers at the GA/FL golf events have been drastically reduced.  DeBacker observed that Park-resident volunteer organizations are showing waning interest in participation in volunteer efforts, due to the Authority's seemingly reduced interest in having resident-volunteers involved.  2)  DeBacker described the "fantastic" concert recently held by the United Way in Great Dunes Park.  DeBacker especially thanked Lorraine and John Donohue and Nancy Kring Rowan for their roles in supporting the concert.

Director Hooks clarified that volunteers from the Jekyll Island State Park Garden Club WILL BE involved in part of the Christmas decorating of the Historic District, contrary to rumors.  The decorating will take place earlier than in the past.

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Director Hooks passed along word from Flash Foods that complications related to construction/inspection of their retaining wall have slowed their gas-station/Dairy Queen project in the Park, to the extent that it will likely be completed at the end, rather than the start, of January, 2011.  An advertisement has appeared for a general manager of the new gas-station/Dairy Queen, indicating that Flash Foods is anticipating being open in the Park soon.

A "notice to proceed" has been issued for the demolition/construction of the Convention Center on 13 October.  Completion of all work is to be accomplished within 510 days of 15 October 2010.

Of the 610 residential properties in the Park, 595 have declared intent to sign new-lease restatements.  Six lessees have formally declined to sign new leases, and 11 have declared that they are undecided.  A final notice will be sent out by certified mail on 1 November.

The Coastal Regional Commission (<http://www.crc.ga.gov/>) has been asked to review, categorize, and summarize the many responses that have come in regarding the updating of the Park's Master Plan.  The Commission has also been asked to provide its own comments regarding their advice for best practices in updating of master plans.  The Commission's response is expected before the end of October.  The Commission was chosen for this task to reduce the likelihood of any bias in the process leading to the updating of the Master Plan.

Hooks remarked that the response to the request for photos and poems for the forthcoming Jekyll Island State Park coffee-table book has been impressive: 952 photos and 51 poems.  Nancy Kring Rowan has put together a judging panel for the selection of photos and poems to be published.

Fire/Safety Chief Jason Richardson presented information on current plans to try some controlled burning in the Park, to reduce dangerous quantities of underbrush that could lead to uncontrollable wildfires.  The idea arose in connection with areas of the golf-course complex that may need to experience controlled burns.  Richardson and Landscape Superintendent Cliff Gawron have consulted with Georgia Forestry in the matter.  It has been concluded that the three golf-course sites would make good test sites for controlled burns, to see how well they would work in the Park.  It is planned to burn the test sites in December.  The date will be chosen based on weather conditions and moisture content.  The burn would take place right after a rain, to prevent deep burning and damage to tree roots.  The wind would preferably be from the northeast, to reduce smoke impact in residential areas.  The burn should take only one day.  Gawron commented that the burns would provide enhanced food sources for the Park's wildlife.  He added that the test sites do not contain especially large stocks of undergrowth, and this is one of the reasons that the sites were chosen for test burns.

CHAIRMAN'S COMMENTS

Chairman Krueger announced that he would be making new committee appointments soon; he has already appointed Buddy DeLoach as the new Chairperson of the Marketing Committee.

Joe Malbasa congratulated Director Hooks on the opening of Great Dunes Park, especially in that the cost was only $1.3 million, and that Great Dunes has already been put to good use on several occasions.  Malbasa brought to the Board's attention that 34 aircraft from the Commanders Owners Group (83 persons) convened recently in Jekyll Island State Park.  The Group had such a good time that they are now discussing returning in 2012.  Malbasa thanked the Board for the good work that they perform.

Chairman Krueger adjourned the meeting at 10:40 AM.

Respectfully submitted,
Steven Y. Newell, Jekyll Island Citizens Association