Public Input on Linger Longer Communities’ Town Center Proposal

On May 26th, the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island State Park (IPJI) contacted Linger Longer Communities (LLC) in the hope of arranging for publication of the public input received by LLC regarding its town center proposal. Below is the letter sent by IPJI Co-Director Mindy Egan, and the July 14th response she received from LLC’s Jim Langford.

To: Jim Langford
Linger Longer Communities

Dear Jim,

Linger Longer and the JIA have repeatedly said that they will be responsive to public input when revising the town center proposal. The model of the first proposal that has been in Villa Ospo has been taken down, and we are getting close to the time a new proposal will be presented to the public. I have spoken with a number of people who have expressed a desire to see the comments that have been made to the website and in the sign-in book at Villa Ospo.

I am formally requesting that Linger Longer make those public comments available for viewing by the general public. JIA Board Chairman Ben Porter, in his February 6, 2007 letter to Governor Perdue stated, “I pledge to you and the people of Georgia that the Jekyll Island Authority will be sensitive and attentive to public interest and input . . .” It seems appropriate that the input Linger Longer has obtained in the public process be shared with the citizens of the state so they can gauge how their wishes are reflected in the new proposal for their state park.

Mindy Egan
Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island State Park

To: Mindy Egan
Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island State Park

Dear Mindy,

Thank you for your request for information regarding the public input that we have received via the website.

As you know, we at Linger Longer committed last year to gathering public input about our initial plan for the island.  We voluntarily held public input sessions and traveled to many parts of the state to talk about the proposed plan and the potential for revitalization of the island.  We consistently said that the plan was “preliminary”, and we asked for specific and constructive feedback so that we could improve the plan that was developed in a very short period of time during the RFP process in the summer of 2007. 

Over the past 10 months, we have received a huge amount of feedback in many forms beyond the website location where we hoped to direct the feedback traffic.  We have received telephone input from the public to the 800 number we set up specifically for that purpose, to my personal cell phone number, to the general office numbers of Linger Longer, and to the direct office numbers and personal cell phones of multiple Linger Longer personnel. 

We have also received input via personal appearances by me and multiple others acting on behalf of Linger Longer.  Individuals at these appearances gave us both oral and written feedback.  Sometimes we were given notes on the backs of napkins, business cards and all kinds of other available paper including forms that we provided. 

We also received email messages and traditional paper correspondence addressed to individuals at Linger Longer or sent to general addresses, both traditional and electronic.  The substance of this feedback is as varied as the forms and channels of communication. 

A small number of sources actually gave us very specific, thoughtful and substantive feedback.  For those, we are very grateful for their time, attention and helpful attitude. 

But most of the feedback is too general and too brief to be of much real value beyond expressions of sentiment both for and against the project.  Organizing or compiling a summary of this feedback would be very difficult and costly - far exceeding any value gained.

Instead, we are working hard on trying to change and improve the plan according to some of the key themes that we have gleaned from our now substantial experience in listening to public input about the initial version of the plan.  We have also had more time to more carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages offered by the original site location as a focus for revitalization of the island.

We hope to be able to share our latest idea about a revitalization plan with everyone in the very near future.  Then each person can decide for themselves if Linger Longer listened to their feedback and incorporated it into the new version of the plan.  Some will say yes, some will say no, and some just may not care – they may continue with their support or their rejection of any Linger Longer plan regardless of changes to the early version.

Thanks very much for your request.  Hopefully, you will hear more from us soon. 

Jim Langford