Record of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority (JISPA) Board Meeting of
24 September 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, Al Ike, Sybil Lynn, and Richard Royal. 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 32 persons.
CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION
Director of Historical Resources John Hunter provided an update on the revising of the Park’s Master Plan. Hunter observed that two Task Force meetings had been held over the last month (20 August, 35/65 group and 24 August, all other groups [Environmental Planning; Sustainability; Historic and Cultural Resources; Recreational Planning; Land Use Transportation and Infrastructure]). The 24 August meetings were held to finalize the recommendations to be included in the outline that the Steering Committee will hand over to Fanning for preparation of the first draft of the Plan. The Task Forces will later be re-engaged for participation in the public-review sessions held for the draft of the Master Plan. The 35/65 Task Force is continuing to robustly examine the options for mapping the Park, and updating the land-use definitions (“developed” versus “undeveloped”), seeking to conform closely to established best-practices, and to have clear justification for application of land-use definitions. The probable final meeting of the 35/65 group will be held in mid-October. The goal is to provide a mapping plan based on recognized data and that can be easily updated. The Fanning people have recently held one-on-one interviews with stakeholders and interest groups, such as DNR, 4H, the Jekyll Business Association, JICA, the local Chamber of Commerce, and local legislators. The first draft Plan is expected to be completed around the first of 2013, at which point the public input phase will begin, and targeted sessions with stakeholders will take place before the Plan is finalized for consideration by the Park Authority Board.
Accounting Director Marjorie Johnson presented financial figures. Net operating cash income for the month of August was a loss of $73 thousand, which was $13 thousand less than the loss that had been expected. Net income for the fiscal year was $1.3 million, 12% better than had been budgeted, but 5% less than the same figure for the previous year at this date.
Legal Associate Chris O’Donnell presented the new license agreement for the Jekyll IGA. One requirement in the agreement was that the agreement could not be transferred without the approval of the Park Authority Board. Marty Fender has sold his interest in the IGA to Steve and Leigh Baumann, so the new owners needed Board approval of their operating of the grocery. The Board approved the new license agreement.
Chief Communications Officer Eric Garvey updated the activities of the Marketing Division. Certified Meeting Planner Beth Burnsed presented a brief video of the recently held Shrimp & Grits Festival. Burnsed reported that about 25 thousand guests attended the Festival. The Park’s hotels were either full, or 90% or higher full, the best hotel occupancy since the Festival’s beginnings seven years ago. Authority personnel from several divisions did chores during the Festival (e.g. directing traffic to parking spots), and Burnsed gave special thanks to Ronny Smith for his overseeing of the staff participation. Burnsed also presented a new bicycle to Anne Johnson (of SGHS), who worked especially hard in her volunteer customer-service role at the Craft Brew portion of the Festival. Director Hooks complimented Burnsed on her extensive planning efforts that begin long before the start of the Festival. Garvey noted that the Festival got media coverage from several outlets (e.g. Foxnews.com).
Garvey reported that the Park Authority is an additional sponsor with Sea Island Company in connection with their McGladrey Classic professional golf tournament. Garvey stated that the tournament’s hosts, Davis and Mark Love, have an affinity with Jekyll Island State Park. The Park Authority will be providing a tour of the Park’s Convention Center for tournament personnel and the attending press.
The Jekyll Island Seafood Company restaurant in the Atlanta airport will be opening in October.
Chairman DeLoach observed that the work of Eric Garvey and Beth Burnsed and their staffs makes him as proud as any of his previously associated organizations.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Matt Maynor, VP of CenterState Bank (Winterhaven, FL), provided an update on the effort to sell the Jekyll Oceanfront Resort (which is in foreclosure under the Bank’s control). The offering price for the property started at $7.2 million, and has been lowered twice now, to $5 million. The call for bids at this price came to a completion in mid-September. Originally, the bank had sought to find a high-end hotel chain to replace the Clarion group. The broker working with the bank has been notified that a cross-section of pricing tiers is needed in Jekyll Island State Park, and the broker has been working with that thought in mind. Four potential bidders have visited the Park, and been impressed with the new Convention Center.
Director Hooks announced the proposing of the establishment of the Jekyll Island State Park Tourism Fund. Hooks reminded the group that the Park charges a 5% bed tax at its hospitality establishments, and that the proceeds of this tax are supposed to be used for promotion of tourism in the Park, along with associated costs (convention facilities, etc.). Approximately 60% of bed-tax monies, according to State law, can be used for the associated costs, although the monies have not previously been used in this way in the Park. It is now proposed that in FY2014, for the purpose of stimulating development projects in the Park that would substantially increase tourism income, up to 30% of the bed-tax monies would be used. Fundable projects must meet the qualifying criteria: they must result in income from future bed taxes; they must represent new investment in the tourism business in the Park; they must promote convention business in the Park, etc. The funds could cover multi-year projects. Application would be made by fundable business planners in July, and the Park Authority would make funding decisions by October. The proposed program has been reviewed by the State AG’s Office. The Tourism Fund could be used for projects that are struggling financially, e.g. the south end of Great Dunes Park. It is not expected that this proposal would result in decreasing the Park Authority’s tourism-promotion work. Chairman Krueger observed that the Tourism Fund would be a significant help in making the Park financially self-sufficient, as required by law. The Board approved the proposal. (It is unclear what this fund will be used for at this time. However, it is possible it might be used to help fund the Westin project.)
Legal Associate Chris O’Donnell presented the fine schedule for the Park’s ordinances. The Park’s new Compliance Officer, Phil Lyons, now has a citation book that he can use to write tickets to violators. The Park’s enabling legislation routes each case to the Glynn County Magistrate Court. Since the Park now has a prescribed schedule of fines, violators can pay the fine without actually having to go to court, just as they would for a traffic ticket. The Park’s fines are very similar to those of Glynn County for the same violations. Each fine includes some add-ons to support County obligations (e.g. the Sheriff’s retirement), and none of the fine money is returned to the Park Authority (it stays with the County). It may be that a small add-on could eventually be used to funnel fine money back to the Park. Director Hooks noted that some fines have no parallel in the Glynn County fine schedule, e.g. the $100 fine for walking in the dunes. Hooks emphasized that Lyons will be primarily attempting to educate visitors and residents regarding the Park’s rules – only incorrigible violators will receive tickets. Chairman Krueger inquired about availability of ordinance lists to visitors to the Park? Answer: There is information about rules in BeachScape, but we should make this information more available in the hotels. The Board approved the schedule of fines.
Director Hooks announced that the first six potential businesses in the Retail Center of the Beach Village have received their potential lease packages for review. If any of those six choose to go forward with their lease adoptions, their names will be put before the Board for consideration. No construction on the Retail Center can begin, according to the One Georgia loan agreement, until the closing on the Westin Hotel in the Beach Village occurs. Because the Georgia Tourism Tax Credit is not being implemented for the Westin project, PNC Bank continues to have the loan agreement for the Westin project on hold.
Director Hooks encouraged those driving through the new toll plaza to SLOW DOWN, if they want the system to work for them. Hooks congratulated Eric Garvey, Marjorie Johnson, and Jim Broadwell for their hard work in making the transition to the new toll system work well.
Michael Hamrick of USGS has recently marked locations where wells will be drilled for monitoring of the Park’s shallow aquifer, an effort in conjunction with the Park’s Conservation Department to better understand the Park’s groundwater system.
Sea Life Aquariums in Arizona was recently the recipient of a loggerhead turtle from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, a turtle whose healed injuries prevented it from being released to the wild. Sea Life will now raise funds for the GSTC for two new tanks and a filtration system ($25 thousand in the first year, to flow through the Jekyll Island Foundation).
Chairman Krueger announced the reappointment of Richard Royal to the Jekyll Island State Park Authority Board. Krueger thanked all staffers and volunteers responsible for the smashing success of the Shrimp & Grits Festival.
Mindy Egan inquired whether the new in-house Tourism Development Fund could be used to support projects such as the Westin Hotel, which is having difficulty securing financing? Answer: That is possible. Egan wondered whether the 5% bed tax is slated to go up? Answer: It is not slated to go up.
Chairman Krueger adjourned the Committee Meeting at 10:44 AM.
Steven Y. Newell, Jekyll Island Citizens Association; produced after transcribing from a digital voice recorder.