Below are three examples of how Senator Chapman has been targeted recently for his objections to some of the terms of the JIA-Linger Longer 25-year contract. To read what the Senator has to say about the contract, visit www.jeffchapman.us. For insight into the Senator’s views on the JIA’s contractual practices, read his recent letter to the members of the JIA board.
Efforts to Stop Project Are Hard to Understand
The Brunswick News
February 3, 2009
It is hard to believe that Sen. Jeff Chapman is beating up his own community and state, but he is doing just that every time he does something to try to upend the promising revitalization project proposed for Jekyll Island.
Doesn't he realize how small this project really is on the island - as far as land mass goes - and doesn't he realize how valuable it will be to everyone, to Glynn County and to the rest of the state?
Apparently not, or he wouldn't be sneaking around Atlanta trying to step on and stamp out the $50 million in bonds that Gov. Sonny Perdue is supporting to bankroll the start-up of the process.
Chapman should have been honest with the electorate. He should have told voters when he was running for reelection last year that he intended to continue to do everything he could to ruin the state's plans to improve the park.
He didn't, though. Perhaps he knew in the back of his mind that the outcome of the election would have been different had he done that, had he been open and aboveboard with the people he asked to return him to office.
No one can be sure why Chapman continues to oppose this project.
Some say it's sour grapes, that he's doing everything in his power to get in the way and slow down the project simply because he was left off the committee of legislators that oversees the park.
Whatever the reason or reasons, maybe Chapman would like to share his "wasteful" funding theory with the moms and dads who recently lost their jobs on Jekyll Island because of low visitation.
He might be set for life, but others aren't. There are a lot of people who have to work every day for a living and who are struggling to make ends meet.
Perhaps he has the sand to tell them face-to-face that the state would be frittering away its money making an old park sparkle once again and ensuring their eventual reemployment.
And while he's at it, maybe he will explain to all Georgians why they cannot have anything that even remotely resembles a shiny spot on the beach. Florida has them. South Carolina has them. North Carolina has them. They all have them, save for the Peach State.
And perhaps in the same breath, he can tell coastal Georgians - including all those who live two, three and four counties deep from the coast - why they do not deserve any kind of stimulus package.
It's hard not to notice that Chapman is not trying to kill projects proposed for other regions of the state.
The only one he is interested in destroying is the one in his own backyard.
Chapman needs to get his facts straight. No one is stealing a beach. They're just trying to save one.
M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Membership of Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce
FROM: "Woody" Woodside, President
Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce
RE: Membership Call to Action for Jekyll's Revitalization
DATE: February 6, 2009
Your Chamber Board has been very vocal in its support for the Jekyll Island Authority (JIA) and their efforts to revitalize Jekyll Island. Currently, there is approximately $390 Million in improvements planned for Jekyll Island, due in large part, to the JIA's revitalization program.
The lynch pin of that revitalization effort has been the public/private partnership contract agreement signed in December 2008 with Linger Longer Communities, Inc. (LLC) to develop a "town center" in and around the current convention center site. This public/private partnership with LLC and the JIA will provide private investment dollars of approximately $100 Million to build the town center and public investment of approximately $50 Million to rebuild the convention center, a beachfront park along the North end of the convention center, and the necessary road work and infrastructural work to support both the town center and all other private investment under way on Jekyll.
The $50 Million public investment consists of $25 Million in bond proceeds suggested by Governor Perdue and approved in House Bill 990 as part of the 2009 budget which was passed in the 2008 Legislative session. HB990 included $663 Million in general obligation bond funding which, in turn, included $25 Million for Jekyll. HB990 was supported by the votes of our ENTIRE Legislative delegation. Additionally, Governor Perdue has suggested $25 Million in bond funding in the 2010 budget to be used for Jekyll infrastructure. Both bond fundings are to be paid back by the JIA from revenues generated from its contractual arrangements with 4 revitalization partners, including LLC. While the State of Georgia will be selling these bonds, the JIA is responsible for paying back the principal and interest on these bonds over 20 years. State taxpayers will recoup the total principal and interest associated with both bond sales.
On January 29, 2009, Senator Jeff Chapman wrote a letter to all the members of the State Senate asking that both bond sales (the entire $50 Million) be rescinded. Senator Chapman made that request of the State Senate after having VOTED FOR HB990 which approved the original $25 Million Jekyll bond proceeds. Incredible as it seems, Senator Chapman, after having voted to approve the initial $25 Million bonds to be used for Jekyll's infrastructure, has now asked his fellow Senators to withdraw their support for ALL bond funding for the revitalization of Jekyll. If successful, Senator Chapman would STOP Jekyll revitalization in its tracks.
Our Chamber membership has been very proud to support the JIA in their efforts to revitalize Jekyll Island because of the numerous benefits to our community:
•These private projects will return over $47 Million to the Jekyll Island Authority over 15 years. •The tax revenues and construction benefits to the State of Georgia associated with Jekyll Island revitalization will be significant and are estimated to be $163 Million over 15 years. •Projected payroll is almost $180 Million. The LLC "town center" projects income over the initial 15 year period alone of $20 Million. This income figure includes $3.5 Million in Linger Longer Partnership contributions to the JIA, in addition to percentage of rents and JIA participation in initial unit sales. •The estimated net present value per acre returned to the JIA on the LLC project is $799,000 over the 15 year period.
Your Board of Directors is asking that you immediately contact Senator Jeff Chapman at his office telephone #404-656-0045; cell #912-399-8683 or his e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and urge him to terminate his efforts to destroy the revitalization of Jekyll Island. Also, please advise him that you join the Governor, leadership, and the majorities of both Houses of the Legislature, as well as the Brunswick City Commission and the Glynn County Commission in supporting the efforts of the JIA to revitalize Jekyll Island, as the JIA's program is good for the State of Georgia, Jekyll Island, and our community.
Get on with the job at hand
The Brunswick News
By REG MURPHY
The wind was blowing so hard it grounded the seagulls. The biting cold had a lonely few bundled figures stepping sprightly along the beach walk. The garden club had the welcome sign out for its indoor meeting.
Nothing, though, could chill the beauty of Jekyll Island this weekday.
The trees that were accustomed to being bent westward by winds off the Atlantic stood mightily against the biting gusts coming at them off the Jekyll River.
Out by the north end of Jekyll Island, campers huddled cozily under the spreading oaks. Sand blew off the dunes in whirling gusts. And still the marvelous vistas were inviting.
It is beyond comprehension why a few people want to deny Georgians the opportunity to enjoy appropriate amenities on this island--which after all belongs to all Georgians.
State Sen. Jeff Chapman is trying to do just that. He is trying to block the state from selling $50 million in state bonds to enhance the quality of the Jekyll experience.
This is only his latest effort to push the rehabilitation project off the tracks. But it is entirely in line with his activities while he was a Glynn County commissioner. His fellow commissioners remember him then as an obstructionist, and his fellow state legislators describe him the same way now.
For as long as he follows this course, he is a dangerous man; not physically, of course, for he is not a bad man.
He is dangerous, instead, to the working people of Southeast Georgia. Some are laid off and would like to be hired for the Linger Longer project and some would like to work in the new facilities and some would like to visit in comfort with their families. Why not give them the opportunity?
His actions are a disservice to his community and to Southeast Georgia.
When I first wrote about Jekyll in 2006, this was my report: "'The product is spiraling down at a rapid rate,' said a member of the Jekyll Island Authority, the state-created governing board for the island. Tough love, this assessment. But it is true." Still is.
There are a couple of new motels either building or open, and another has undergone a facelift. One hotel-restaurant combination is very good.
In contrast, the convention center is a frazzled mess. There really is no place to hold a good-sized convention crowd. Business is acknowledged to be bad by the businessmen who operate there.
After about two years of planning and adjustments, there is a solid design for a place all Georgians can be proud of. Chapman may be able to stop the redevelopment.
A few of his supporters are muttering darkly about "a backroom deal." I have asked questions and not found one. More diligent reporters have dug harder and not found one. If there is real evidence, it should be turned over to the state's attorney general, who is the people's lawyer.
If there is no evidence of skullduggery, the rumors should stop. Period.
Others say the facilities in the new plan are not affordable by all Georgians. Some of our people are out of work. They may not get any employment if there are no economic engines in the area. Tourism is a great economic engine--if a good product is available.
Ask any businessperson in Southeast Georgia how business is in the winter of 2009. Well, you don't really have to ask; you already know that it needs a lift like Jekyll could give it. That is a real economic stimulus.
It is not hard to love Jekyll. My mind's eye still sees my little girls giggling and playing with other kids who were brought to the Georgia Press Association convention every year by their newspaper parents.
Nor is it hard to understand how the people who live there cherish their neat lawns, nice houses, plentiful churches, rambling bike trails and quality golf courses. It is a pleasure just to drive through those neighborhoods.
Some of those people (quantifying the number is impossible) say they know improvements must come. But neither they nor anybody else has been able to come up with a plan that would please them.
So why don't we stop this endless bickering over details and get on with the job of enhancing the Jekyll experience for all Georgians.
Build it and they will come.
- Reg Murphy, a Golden Isles resident, has been editor of The Atlanta Constitution, publisher of The (Baltimore) Sun, and editor and publisher of the San Francisco Examiner.