Photo Reminders of Why We Do What We Do for Jekyll Island State Park: These Images Are Guaranteed to Wow You!!
To warm your heart and stir your spirit, check out the awesome images from Jekyll Island captured by three talented photographers, Dorothy Carswell, Dory Ingram and Greg Lowery. The photos provide a visual manifestation of why so many people feel so strongly about preserving and protecting the traditional character, natural wonders and magical charm of Jekyll Island State Park. Please keep these images in mind as you read the rest of IPJI’s autumn Newsletter.
Jekyll Island Master Plan Update: Your Chance to Help Shape Jekyll’s Future
Preliminary work is underway on the official update of the Jekyll Island State Park Master Plan, which serves as the island’s governing document and the prime source of official policy.
The University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute has been hired by the Jekyll Island Authority (JIA) to handle development of the Update. The Institute, which has experience in community and area development and worked on the 1983 Jekyll Island State Park Master Plan, will, among other tasks, be responsible for organizing public participation in the update process, including statewide surveys of public opinion regarding the future of Jekyll Island State Park.
The JIA is in the process of forming a Steering Committee for the Master Plan review and has identified task forces to work on specific portions of the Update, including Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure, Environmental Planning, Historic and Cultural Resources, and Sustainability. It is anticipated that the Steering Committee and task forces will include professionals in public land planning along with citizens who have demonstrated a commitment to the protection, preservation and betterment of Jekyll Island State Park.
As an organization devoted to protecting Jekyll’s unique character, preserving the island’s natural wonders, and ensuring a bright future for Georgia’s premier state park, the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island has a keen interest in the agenda for the Master Plan Update. Among the issues that should be part of that agenda, three stand out:
- The definition of the terms “developed” and “undeveloped” land in relation to the legal requirement that no more than 35% of Jekyll Island can be developed
- The demarcation of the boundary between upland Jekyll Island and the marshland on the island’s landward side, a step which is necessary in order to accurately calculate Jekyll Island’s land area and, from there, the number of acres eligible for development
- The determination of Jekyll Island’s ideal carrying capacity, meaning the extent of development/human activity that the island can handle without diminishing its unique character, wildlife habitats or overall environment
Proper resolution of the four issues outlined above will help secure a bright future for Jekyll Island State Park. This can be achieved by ensuring that the revised Master Plan is consistent with nationally accepted standards for public land planning and for citizen participation in the planning process. To that end, IPJI will be providing its supporters and various non-profit organizations with background information on the issues involved, ongoing news about the Master Plan Update, and guidelines on how the public can participate in the Update process. This is a very important endeavor, folks. Jekyll Island State Park needs your involvement and support!
IPJI to Hold Annual Meeting for Members
- A “facts and fables” tour of Jekyll’s Historic District led by IPJI board member Greg Lowery, during which he will share some of his extensive knowledge about the Jekyll Island Club and its members. The tour group will meet at 10:00 am in the parking lot next to the Latitude 31 restaurant.
- A clean-up of the beach between the boardwalk at Jekyll’s soccer complex and the water tower to the north. IPJI is responsible for monitoring ecosystems and beach activities and for removing litter along that one-mile stretch of beach as part of the Jekyll Island Authority’s “Adopt-a-Beach Program." The clean-up group will meet at 1:30 pm in the parking lot at the west end of the boardwalk.
The board meeting, which is open to IPJI’s members, will be held at 4:00 pm at the Hampton Inn & Suites and will include two guest speakers:
- Former Georgia State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Jeff Chapman, who is well known for his work on behalf of Jekyll Island State Park, will speak about lessons to be learned from the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island.
- Dr. Ken Cordell, one of America’s foremost authorities on public land planning and the author of over 300 scientific papers dealing with Americans’ relationship with their natural lands, will talk about the value of applying nationally accepted planning principles to the upcoming official update of the Jekyll Island Master Plan and the importance of public engagement in the Master Plan process.
A social hour, with spiffy refreshments, will follow the meeting.
The Hampton Inn is offering special rates for IPJI members who’ll be attending the annual meeting -- $99 for a standard room; and $109 for a suite. If you wish to take advantage of this offer, contact Susan Christian (912-635-3733) at the Hampton Inn to make arrangements.
If you plan to attend IPJI’s annual meeting and have not yet registered, please sign up by clicking here. We need an accurate count of attendees in order to plan for seating and refreshments.
Citizen Action Needed to Help Protect Georgia’s Coast
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is conducting a “Satisfaction Survey” to determine citizen opinion on the effectiveness of the Georgia Coastal Management Program (GCMP) in carrying out its official mission, which is “to balance economic development in Georgia's coastal zone with preservation of natural, environmental, historic, archaeological, and recreational resources for the benefit of Georgia's present and future generations.” The survey can be completed online at http://www.coastalgadnr.org/cm prior to October 20th.
A number of organizations concerned with coastal management, preservation and protection have questioned various GMCP practices, particularly with respect to the administration and implementation of Georgia’s Coastal Marshlands Protection Act and Shore Protection Act.
The Coastal Marshlands Protection Act states that,
“The coastal marshlands resource system is costly, if not impossible, to reconstruct or rehabilitate once adversely affected by man related activities and is important to conserve for the present and future use and enjoyment of all citizens and visitors to this state…. Activities and structures in the coastal marshlands must be regulated to ensure that the values and functions of the coastal marshlands are not impaired and to fulfill the responsibilities of each generation as public trustees of the coastal marshlands for succeeding generations.”
Also of concern is the DNR's use of “Letters of Permission” to authorize land alteration and shore engineering activities within areas subject to the Shore Protection Act without securing the legally required approval of the Shore Protection Committee and without issuing the legally required public notice. One such letter was issued this past year to authorize extensive land alteration activities in association with filming scenes from the movie X-Men on 4.5 acres of Jekyll’s beachfront that is under the Shore Protection Act's jurisdiction. A law suit has been filed against the DNR by the Center for a Sustainable Coast and IPJI’s Co-Directors David and Mindy calling for an end to the use of “Letter of Permission” with respect to the Shore Protection Act. [Click here for a letter from the Southern Environmental Law Center protesting the DNR’s use of “Letters of Permission”].
The Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island is encouraging its supporters to take part in the GCMP ten-question "Satisfaction Survey," the findings of which will be presented to the Georgia General Assembly. Our main concern is with survey questions 6 & 7, which deal with the GCMP’s handling of Georgia’s Shore Protection and Coastal Marshlands Protection Acts. After checking the appropriate response for those two questions, please make use of the “comments” option to briefly rate the GCMP’s performance with respect to upholding the vitally important Shore Protection and Coastal Marshlands Protection Acts.
You may be unaware of some of the other programs/activities that the survey addresses; just check the “unfamiliar with this program activity” option for those questions.
Jekyll Island Scores Big in America’s Favorite Parks Contest
The results of the “America’s Favorite Parks” contest are now final. Jekyll Island State Park, which received more than 500,000 votes, officially finished in 5th place out of more than 1,700 contestants, according to a September 28th press release issued by the contest’s sponsor, the Coca Cola Company.
Although Jekyll did not win a share of the $175,000 in prize money awarded to the top 3 finishers, the AFP contest was, for Jekyll’s friends, never about winning dollars but rather showing appreciation for the island’s unique character and natural beauty. We did that, and then some, by helping Jekyll secure a top five rank despite a very late start in the 70-day online voting contest.
More than 300 people, representing 18 states and Canada, joined IPJI’s “Voting Clubs” and were vital to Jekyll’s ability to score more than 12,000 votes a day during the stretch run in order to reach a half-million total votes and claim rank #5 in the AFP competition. Our thanks go out to those of you who, in the face of technical glitches on the AFP’s website, annoying security codes, and our sometimes corny email updates/pep talks, voted for Jekyll day after day in the AFP contest.
IPJI’s effort in the AFP contest was formally recognized by the Chairman of the Jekyll Island Authority’s Board of Directors who, at the board’s September 26th meeting, thanked IPJI and presented its Co-Directors – Mindy and David Egan – with a six-pack of Coca Cola topped with a big, white bow.
We’re already looking forward to next year’s AFP contest and hope you, and a lot more of Jekyll’s friends, will join us then in propelling Jekyll to the top of the pack in this tough and prestigious competition.
IPJ Addresses Georgia Sierra Club
On October 1, 2011, IPJI board member Greg Lowery and Co-Directors David and Mindy Egan gave a two-part presentation to members of the Georgia Sierra Club, who were on Jekyll Island for a two-day retreat. The Jekyll Island Club era (1886-1942) and the early history of Jekyll Island State Park were the twin focal points of their opening talk, which was enriched by a series of photos from the late 1940s through the 1960s. The ‘must see” spots on Jekyll Island—particularly the island’s unique natural features—were also highlighted at that time.
The second presentation dealt with the Jekyll Island State Park redevelopment issue. The ambitious “Vision 2020” concept plan introduced by the Jekyll Island Authority in 2004; the rise and fall of the JIA’s partnership with high-end developer Linger Longer Communities; and the evolution of the Jekyll town center project were the core of their talk. A discussion of the importance of the upcoming official review of the Jekyll Island Master Plan and the need for continued citizen involvement in planning for the state park’s future closed out the presentation.
IPJI always appreciates having an opportunity to speak to organizations interested in Jekyll Island State Park. If you are affiliated with an organization that would like to arrange for an IPJI spokesperson to address your group regarding any Jekyll-related subject, contact IPJI Chairperson Barbara McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second Public Park Added to
Jekyll Town Center
At its September 26th board meeting, the Jekyll Island Authority introduced a concept plan for a public park on the south side of the Jekyll town center in an area that had previously been set aside for a 160-unit timeshare complex and more recently had been designated as the site for a third hotel for the Jekyll town center.
The newly announced public facility will include family picnic pavilions, restrooms, changing stations, landscaped green space, 131 parking spaces, and a new dune crossover. The South Beach Park, which will replace the current beach deck and parking area just to the north of the Days Inn, is adjacent to the site of the yet to be built 200-room Jekyll convention hotel and will provide additional parking and convenient access to the town center’s retail center. Its design will mirror that of the popular North Beach access at Great Dunes Park. Public access to the current South Beach deck/parking area will be closed from now until March 2012, when the $950,000 renovation project is estimated to be completed.
IPJI has been a long time advocate of maximizing public space within Jekyll Island State Park and therefore applauds the JIA’s recent decision to preserve and enhance the South Beach public amenity. Given the projections for rapid population growth for Georgia’s coastal counties, and considering that Jekyll Island is Georgia’s only oceanfront state park, public demand for convenient beach access is likely to grow significantly in coming years. Providing additional beach access and parking certainly makes good sense and is good public policy as well.
Jekyll Town Center Project:
Progress and Delays
Construction of the publicly financed components of the Jekyll town center is moving forward on schedule while the developers of the town center’s private components—two hotels, a retail center, and 63 loft condominiums—have yet to secure financing and, consequently, continue to push back their ground-breaking dates.
The center piece of the town center will be the 128,000 square feet Jekyll convention center, which should be completed by June, 2012. The beachside convention center, which is being financed as part of a $50 million state bond issue for the town center project, will be LEED Silver Certified and will feature 78,000 square feet of prime meeting space, including a 4,500-seat ballroom suitable for large conferences and special events.
Jekyll Landmark Associates, the company selected to build the town center’s 200-room, full-service convention hotel, had hoped to obtain financing by the end of August but is now aiming to secure financing no later than December 31, 2011 and to complete the hotel on or before June 30, 2013. The five-story, beachfront hotel will be branded under either the Hilton, Westin or Marriott name.
Phelps Development, which stated at the May, 2011 JIA board meeting that financing for its 135-room limited-service hotel would be secured within a matter of days and that construction of the hotel could be begin as early as August, 2011, now intends to have its financing in hand by October 15, 2011, according to an announcement made at the September 26 JIA board meeting. Presumably, construction of the hotel, which will be operated by Hyatt Place, will begin before the end of the year.
Winding Road Development Company, which is slated to build the retail/ restaurant/condominium portion of the town center project, expects to have a decision on its EB 5 application for financing before the end of November. EB 5 is a federal program that provides a method of obtaining U.S. citizenship for foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 in a project that creates a minimum of 10 U.S. jobs.