Saturday, November 3, 2007

10/16 - Jekyll hotel plan is just a little bit out of reach

The Florida Times-Union
October 16, 2007
Times-Union Correspondent

JEKYLL ISLAND - The Jekyll Island Authority is looking forward to a few new hotels, but some new fire equipment may need to be placed on order as well.

Schematics of a hotel to replace the aging Buccaneer Resort have unveiled a six-story building - one story higher than any other on Jekyll Island and one story higher than Jekyll Island's fire department equipment can reach.

Members of the Jekyll Island Authority Board reviewed the apparent kink in the plan during their regular meeting Monday, when the drawings were scheduled for board approval.

"We have equipment that can reach the fourth and fifth floor and the whole building will have a sprinkler system," Jekyll Island Authority Executive Director Bill Donohue said.

Both Brunswick and Glynn County fire departments have aerial fire trucks, the vehicle that would be needed to rescue a person from the sixth floor, Donohue said. When a fire broke out on Jekyll Island two years ago, those crews responded within 10 to 15 minutes, he said.

"But I'm sure we'd all feel differently if we were the ones staying on the sixth floor," Donohue said.

Although the new hotel meets Jekyll Island's building codes that no occupied rooms extend higher than 64 feet, this is the first time Jekyll will build livable space that high.

It would cost Jekyll Island's fire department $500,000 to buy its own aerial fire truck.

Rick Patton, spokesman for the hotel development team, said the company would be willing to help with the equipment purchase. Meetings between the hotel architect and Jekyll's fire marshal will continue into next week.

The board approved the schematics, but board member Ed Boshears questioned whether plans ought to move forward before the hotel had final approval from Jekyll Island's fire marshal.

Donohue said the board will have two more opportunities - once in November and again in February - to review the hotel's plans for fire safety before construction can begin.

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