25-Year Private-Public Partnership Formed
for Jekyll Island State Park
On December 1st, the Jekyll Island Authority board approved a 25-year private-public partnership agreement between Linger Longer Jekyll and the JIA. The contract, which arguably is the most important agreement in the history of the Jekyll Island State Park, was approved at a special session of the JIA board without public review and without any opportunity for public comment.
The contract, which is called the Revitalization Partnering Agreement (RPA), is now available to members of the public, upon request.
Below are three contractual points that merit special attention. A more detailed commentary on the contract’s terms can be found on Senator Chapman’s website.
1. The Revitalization Partnering Agreement aims to have the private partner assume financial responsibility for some or all of the park’s key assets
•This goal translates into Linger Longer being given the right to manage and operate whichever of the park’s revenue-generating facilities it chooses to take on, including the golf course complex.
•The Agreement disregards the affordability requirement enshrined in Jekyll legislation, meaning there is nothing contractually that would prevent Linger Longer Jekyll from upscaling these facilities to private resort status, which would price them beyond the reach of the “people of average income” for whose benefit the park was established. •While the contract only offers Linger Longer the option to take over Jekyll’s golf courses, Linger Longer has previously expressed interest in doing so, and the JIA board seems eager to comply. According to JIA board chairman Bob Krueger, the JIA should not be running golf courses. “Private businesses,” he said in a December 2nd Georgia-Times Union article, “know how to make money at that type of thing.”
2. The financial arrangements between the JIA and Linger Longer for the town center project lean to the advantage of the private partner.
•The JIA estimates that the project will generate more than $40 million in direct revenue for the Authority over the Agreement’s 25-year term. •The $40 million dollar figure does not take into account the cost of the project for the JIA, which includes paying back, with interest, $25 million in bond debt, and monthly ‘revitalization partnering payments’ to Linger Longer totaling $1.3 million. •Linger Longer has not reveled its estimated profits over the term of the contract, but its profits should top $100 million, thanks to a series of financial incentives and giveaways provided in the Agreement. •The point here is that the less revenue earned by the JIA from the town center project, the more the need for additional development to provide the funds necessary for the JIA to handle the backlog of capital improvement and infrastructure projects it says it must undertake.
3. Linger Longer’s time-share complex will displace Jekyll’s most widely used beachfront parking area—the one just north of the Days Inn—with its accompanying public facilities.
•The contract does not require LL to pay for the cost of replacing these facilities in the proposed “signature park” to be built by the JIA just north of the beach village site. •It seems reasonable to insist that if a private development project leads to the destruction of a public facility within a state park, the developer must replace that facility in kind at an appropriate site within the park.