PUBLIC OPINION ON JEKYLL'S REDEVELOPMENT MISREPRESENTED BY JIA BOARD CHAIRMAN BEN PORTER
1)The critics of the JIA’s beachfront town center project consist of a small group of “misguided” Jekyll Island residents out to protect their own little paradise to the detriment of “hundreds of thousands of Georgians.” 2)The opponents of the Jekyll town center project prefer to “save asphalt parking lots along the beach” rather than allow Georgians and others the pleasure of staying in the proposed oceanside Jekyll Village. 3)Critics of the town center project are opposed to Jekyll’s revitalization. 4)Revitalization requires a Jekyll oceanfront town center
The documented truth is that:
1)The critics of the Authority’s oceanfront town center project consist of well over 10,000 of Jekyll’s visitors, representing over 350 towns and cities in our state. 2)The opponents of the project prefer that Jekyll Island State Park’s main public beach remain unobstructed and directly accessible to the general public. 3)The project’s opponents support responsible revitalization of their state park, including reconstruction of the island’s oceanfront hotels, rehabilitation of the convention center, amenity upgrades, and the enhancement of Jekyll’s nature tourism potential. 4)Jekyll’s visitors are, in fact, saying that revitalization can occur without a town center project that hogs the park’s landmark beach. The facts show that Jekyll stands to double the number of its oceanfront hotel rooms and condominiums over the next five years, separate from any lodgings that might be built in the proposed town center.
Mr. Porter’s assault on the truth is an attempt to discredit those who oppose one aspect the JIA Board’s revitalization effort and to misinform legislators about the views of thousands of Georgians so as to build support for a project which, in its current form, is widely unpopular with Jekyll’s visitors. While Mr. Porter has attempted to twist the facts about legislation that aims to protect a treasured public amenity—Jekyll’s main public beach—he has succeeded in showing that the beachfront project, as it is currently configured, intends to gobble up the very open beachfront Jekyll’s visitors wish to preserve.
Georgia Code Section 45-10-3, subsection 8, states that each member of all boards, commissions, and authorities created by general statute shall “never engage in conduct which is unbecoming to a member or which constitutes a breach of public trust.” Mr. Porter, by misrepresenting the written testimony dealing with Jekyll’s revitalization sent to the JIA board by Georgians from around the state, has abused the trust placed in him by the public.
FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS IN NEED OF ANSWERS
•Why can’t the JIA sell the town center proposal on the project’s own merits rather than resort to factual distortions? •Why are the thousands of citizens who are trying to preserve Jekyll’s wide-open beach as a public amenity being billed as a few, cranky Jekyll Island residents? •Why is the judgment of Jekyll’s visitors who are saying “no” to a seaside development project that hogs the main public beach being discounted in favor of those of a private contractor who stands to profit immensely from selling high-priced condos on publicly-owned, oceanfront land? •Where is the evidence that island visitors want and Jekyll’s revitalization requires a beachside town center? •Why is the JIA working so hard to thwart any legislation that might protect Jekyll’s signature beach from commercialization?