Thursday, September 6, 2007

08/29 - Jekyll already gaining an exclusive feel

Brunswick News
Date August 29, 2007
Section(s) Commentary

The Legislative Oversight Committee, the panel of Georgia lawmakers appointed to oversee the operations and plans of the Jekyll Island Authority, may have its hands full when it meets Thursday at the state park to hear what the authority has in mind for the island. Residents are upset that the very purpose for Jekyll Island, the reason the state is said to have purchased it decades ago - to provide an affordable place for every Georgian to enjoy - may be lost in all the plans the authority is making for the future.

Right or wrong, that is the concern of those who live full- and part-time on the island, as well as with a growing number of citizens who reside elsewhere around the state.

Jekyll already has a semi-exclusive feel to some. That comes with charging $3 per day per visit just to park and swim. That's almost tantamount to having a gated community, especially when it costs absolutely nothing at all to park and swim on St. Simons Island across the way.

Nevertheless, the $3 parking fee has not stopped Georgians, even ones on the lower end of the income scale, from going to Jekyll Island and enjoying what nature has to offer. Those who want to spend a day or two on Jekyll tend to overlook the fee.

Many low to middle low income families, though - and this can be verified - rarely stay overnight on the island. Many will make it a day trip. Those who do decide to stay overnight in the community will often search for something on the mainland, where less costly accommodations can be found. This trend will no doubt continue when new hotels are constructed.

Families often shop for bargain deals. It's what prudent families do to stay within their budget.

Cheap hotels on Jekyll Island?

That's not likely to happen. Forty or 50 years ago, sure. But today, with ocean real estate having skyrocketed and the cost of doing business going up and up?

Few would be willing to invest on Jekyll and settle for low room rates - not without a heavy, long-term subsidy from the taxpayers of this state.

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