In a prepared statement, Senator Jeff Chapman (Brunswick - District 3) addressed the members of the Jekyll Island Legislative Oversight Committee on Dec. 16, 2008 at a meeting at the Capitol following a presentation by Jekyll Island Authority board members on the currents status of their effort to redevelop the island park.

Below is the text of Sen. Chapman’s statement, along with his comments on a graduate level research study being done at the University of Georgia which indicates that the 35 percent limit on development on Jekyll Island may have already been surpassed.

Below is a link to a videotape of the entire two-hour session of the Oversight Committee’s meeting. Under the title “Multimedia - Recent Events,” you’ll find a heading for the “Jekyll Island Study Committee” where you can click on the line that says “stand alone play” to activate the video.  Senator Chapman’s remarks begin around the 1:44 point of the meeting. The videotape may be fast-forwarded to that point if you do not want to view the entire meeting.
                 http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2007_08/house/Committees/GLN/boardcastIndex.htm


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The Revitalization Partnering Agreement is an unfair deal for the people of Georgia

        The Agreement includes a series of multi-million dollar financial incentives and giveaways for development on prime oceanfront public land. Because developable beachfront land is so rare and in such high demand, I believe we need full disclosure on why a state agency would agree to provide millions of dollars in incentives for developers to build on highly valuable public property.  

      The Agreement legitimizes an unbalanced deal in which the private partner receives 99 percent of the net profits from over $130 million in time-share sales, while the public partner receives just 1 percent.

     The Agreement gives the private partner free use of oceanfront state park land by allowing Linger Longer to require the people who purchase its time-shares to pay the annual land lease fee for this property. If Linger Longer is being given the right to make huge profits through free use of publicly-owned land, then the JIA should be receiving more than 1 percent of the profits.

        The Agreement includes hotel lease terms which provide Linger Longer with millions of dollars of rent reductions over a ten-year period. These lease terms represent a needless giveaway of publicly-generated revenue that could be used to help maintain and operate the state park. Furthermore, the lease terms are contrary to those in the December 2006 Jekyll Ocean Oaks contract, which was intended to serve as a model for future hotel development contracts, according to former JIA board chair Richard Wood, who helped negotiate the agreement.

     The Agreement hands out more than a million dollars in “partnering payments” to Linger Longer as a reward for simply carrying out the obligations it has agreed to as a participant in the revitalization effort.

       The Agreement requires the JIA to take on $25 million in bond debt, or roughly $50 million when including interest, for a town center project that is estimated to provide the JIA with $40 million in direct revenue. I don’t have a degree in accounting, but I know that $50 million dollars is more than $40 million, which makes the Partnering Agreement a bad deal for the people of Georgia.

    I suggest that the JIA provide figures showing Linger Longer’s estimated income, costs and profits in relation to the JIA’s so we can see what both partners stand to make from their partnership, and so that we can determine if the Agreement is consistent with the statutory requirement that the park be managed, operated and developed “at the lowest rates reasonable and possible for the benefit of the people of Georgia.” [OCGA 12-3-271]      

    The Agreement out-sources the JIA’s responsibility for park management and operation by offering Linger Longer private control of valuable public recreational facilities.

    The Agreement does not provide for any public review of proposed private partnering operations or development projects. The JIA is conducting business for publicly-owned land. Citizens therefore have a right to see, in advance, any proposals involving park operations or development. 

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In addition to raising the above-stated points about the Revitalization Partnering Agreement, Senator Chapman made the following statement to the Committee:     

This past Friday, I was informed of a research study being done at the University of Georgia’s Center for Remote Sensing and Mapping that aims to determine the percentage of Jekyll Island that has been developed. The study, which makes use of technology that was unavailable when the developed area of Jekyll was calculated back in 1996, indicates that 35.23 percent of the island has been developed.

In view of the need to ensure that 65 percent of Jekyll Island remains undeveloped, as required by law, I believe that the JIA and the Legislative Oversight Committee should table any development plans that would affect currently undeveloped land on Jekyll until the results of the new study can be analyzed.