Record of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority (JISPA) Board Meeting of 20 September 2010, at McCormick's Grill, 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 9:35 AM. Board members present were Steve Croy, Buddy De Loach, Mike Hodges, Sybil Lynn, and Richard Royal. Also present was Park Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks. Laura Lanier and Denise Whiting-Pack (Attorney General's Office) were on conference telephone. The audience numbered about 30 persons. Krueger welcomed Lanier to the Board, and announced that she was unable to attend, since she has a new baby at home.
CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION
Chairman Royal reported that the Conservation Plan Committee is still on target for production of the Plan by early 2011, and it will have its next planning session with the assistance of consultant AECOM on 20 October. The first public meeting of the Committee was held on the evening of 8 September. A video of the public meeting is posted on the JISPA website (look under Important Postings; Revitalization Updates; Conservation Programs, <http://www.jekyllisland.com/Revitalization/ConservationPrograms.aspx>). The public is encouraged to view the video, and make comments to AECOM representative Jay Exum (jay.exum@AECOM.com). Dr. Exum presented the Board with a summary of the current progress in preparing the Park's Conservation Plan. Exum expressed pleasure at having had "well over 100" attendees at the public meeting on 8 September.
Mike Hodges inquired about the timing of the Plan's completion? Answer: probably by the middle of February, 2011.
Mindy Egan complimented Hooks, Royal, and Committee Chairman Terry Norton for making the public session on 8 September possible. Egan expressed pleasure with the large attendance at the meeting, and the interest shown by the audience in the progress of the Committee. She gave as an example the statements made by a retired Emory University professor who had brought his ecology students to the Park over many years. The professor wanted to be sure that the Plan included recommendations that the dune structure of the Park be restored to its original form (he cited instances of destruction of the dunes by previous Park Authorities). Egan also commended Exum on his inclusion of material submitted by the public on 8 September in his summary presentation to the Board.
Chairman Hodges reported August income $1.647 million (8% more than expected in the budget). Park expenses for August were $1.442 million, 3% more than had been planned, mostly due to benefits and insurance costs. Net operating cash income for August was $204,818, $74,000 better than expected. Director Hooks commented that the opening of schools in Georgia in August makes tourism in the Park difficult – to counter this, the Marketing Department is targeting advertising to areas of the eastern USA where schools do not open until after Labor Day (e.g., Philadelphia and northern Virginia).
Chairman Hodges noted that the Authority staff had lost a landscaping tractor to a vehicle fire. He introduced a capital request for a new and more capable tractor (low bid, $82,736 including attachments). The successful bidder was a local business, Emery Lawn and Tractor, for a Kubota tractor. Hodges inquired about insurance for the vehicle fire? Answer: not yet clear, but the amount will not be substantial regardless, since the tractor was 15 years old. Hooks noted that the new tractor will be capable of better handling maintenance of the Jekyll causeway borders, obviating the need to bid out this expensive maintenance. Steve Croy wondered why there was a large range in the bids? Answer: probably because the successful bidder was local, and they probably had the tractor in current inventory. The capital request was approved.
Chairman Hodges introduced a new proposed ground lease, for Jekyll Lodging Associates (the Club Hotel entrepreneurs), for their full-service hotel near the new Convention Center in the Beach Village. Fees will be $2,000 per acre per month from commencement date to operations date, then $240,000 per year, with CPI adjustment, and 3% of gross room revenue to $8 million, and 4% thereafter; 2% of gross food and beverage; and 3% of other gross revenue. Deadlines within 2010 were included for submission of building designs, lending agreements, and franchiser (if any). Hodges asked for clarification of "commencement date"? Answer: the date of the signing of the lease agreement. The lease was approved, with the proviso that any changes will require legal-counsel's approval.
In Chairman Porter's absence, Marketing Director Eric Garvey introduced Ed Lindsey of Georgia Tech, who presented his latest results of his analysis (PRIZM software) of the hotel-visitor data from the hotels of Jekyll Island State Park. Lindsey gave a detailed summary of his work to date, and showed how the results could be used to target marketing toward particular segments of the vacationing public (for example, the most desirable patrons of the hotels with costs below the average daily rate). For each type of vacationer, Lindsey was able to specify what media should be used to market to that type, what entertainment outlets should be emphasized, etc.
Garvey gave a summary of his experience with the weekend's Shrimp & Grits Festival. He felt that it was the best turnout yet for the Festival, and congratulated Events Director Beth Burnsed and all of the volunteer assistants for their work on the celebration.
Pat Overholt complimented Lindsey on his description of the statistics of Jekyll tourism, but she wanted to move to a more basic stance. She recommended that the marketing folks talk to visitors individually. She felt that, during 23 years of living in the Park, she has learned a great deal about what visitors like and dislike from speaking to them directly, during her beachwalks, for example. Overholt felt that the visitors who rent homes come to Jekyll Island State Park because of its low level of development and conserved natural environments. Overholt recommended that the Marketing Department speak to long-term residents who have repeatedly informally interviewed visitors.
Mindy Egan wondered whether Lindsey's data came only from hotel visitors? Answer: it is limited to hotel guests, but the data from the PRIZM analysis can easily lead to just what Overholt recommends – focus-group interviews. Lindsey added that, in addition to his hotel-guest data, he has data from visitors to the Welcome Center and to the golf courses – he will eventually work up this data just as he has the hotel-guest data. Director Hooks commented that the Park Authority has been conducting focus-group surveys for some time (e.g., winter-guests were invited to a gathering last year for the purpose of contributing information regarding their views of Park operations). Egan added that the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island conducted surveys of Park visitors and contributed the results to the Park Authority; she stated that this data base is still available to those who might need it.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Director Hooks announced that the Beachview Shops (formerly Transitional Retail Area) are now fully open, including the Post Office. Discussion is ongoing with IGA regarding their hosting extended hours to make up for the fact that Flash Foods will not be operating in the Park until its new gas station store is open.
The Morgan Center (part of the temporary Convention Center) will be completed by the end of October. The Center will host its first event during the first week of November. The first event to be hosted in the 37,000 square feet of temporary convention pavilion (tent-like, but hard-sided) space will begin on 14 October.
Hooks showed photos of the old beachside area north of the Convention Center, and compared them to photos of the new, Great Dunes Park; he considered the new park to be an example of the major upgrading of the State Park facilities that will be ongoing.
Hooks announced that 90% of the current residential leaseholders have now committed to the new residential-lease offering. Only 3 residential leaseholders have formally declined to accept the new lease offering.
Hooks reported that the Park Authority has, just as rumored, had discussions with Twentieth Century Fox regarding the possibility of the new X-Men movie being filmed in part in Jekyll Island State Park. Members of the movie-production staff did fly in from London, where the current filming is taking place, and did look around the Park. No commitments for filming have been made by the Park Authority.
Hooks introduced the new Executive Director of the Jekyll Island Foundation, Mac DeVaughn, who assumed his position on 23 August. DeVaughn is a graduate of Georgia State University, and has held several foundation positions in the past. He is already working on obtaining funding for the currently proposed restoration projects in the Park's Historic District.
Hooks announced that the Park's Naming Committee has approved a name for the new food-service facility to be constructed in the Historic District (Doc's Snack Shop) and a new name for Blackbeard's Restaurant (Major Horton's Seafood & Ale House). (Major Horton is a historical figure from Jekyll Island's past.)
Hooks observed that the College of Coastal Georgia has now paid for 2,500 parking-fee permits for its full-time students. The College is planning several events to be held in the Park, including the Georgia College Athletic Association Golf Tournament in April of 2011.
Hooks announced that a construction manager had been tentatively selected for the building of the new Convention Center and related projects. Fourteen proposals were submitted for this position, and the proposal of Advanced AEC Solutions (represented by Jeff Prine of Atlanta) is now recommended. This firm has handled construction of several major conference facilities in Atlanta. The cost of the management contract is capped at $360,000. This contract was approved.
Hooks next put forward the selection committee's choice for the position of General Contractor for the Convention Center and site-development-related work. The best-value selection process led to the tentative selection of Brasfield & Gorrie (B & G) of Kennesaw from a group of nine finalists (of 18 original candidates) who had submitted written proposals and attended interviews with the selection committee. A major consideration in the choice of B & G was the depth of experience of the firm, along with their reputation for tree protection. Previously estimated construction costs come to about $37 million, and the B & G proposal cost comes to about $30 million. Chairman Krueger added that B & G is a Georgia company, not a mega-conglomerate. This contract was approved.
Chairman Krueger invited the audience to the ribbon-cutting for Great Dunes Park, to follow adjournment of the Board meeting.
Krueger remarked that individual developers of the forthcoming Beach Village have been comparing designs, and making changes needed to provide consistency and attractiveness.
Krueger congratulated Chris Clark on his selection as President of the Georgia State Chamber of Commerce, and thanked him for his service on the Board of the Park Authority.
Krueger informed the audience that Board member Ben Porter has had further surgery. Porter has been in rehab, and is now at home. Porter has a website on CaringBridge.org for those who would like to communicate with him.
Chairman Krueger adjourned the meeting at 11:39 AM.
Steven Y. Newell, Jekyll Island Citizens Association