Saturday, November 3, 2007

10/30 - Don't destroy parking lots

The Florida Times-Union
October 30, 2007
Special to the Times-Union

A recent article in the Georgia Times-Union that described another impact of the Linger Longer Communities redevelopment proposal brings into focus a question that underlies the entire project on Jekyll Island. Who will benefit the most?

David Egan of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island opined that exchanging beachfront parking for high-priced amenities "says the first clientele being accommodated is not Jekyll's day visitors. It says you are not a priority."

Using inaccurate data, the developer tries to justify the proposal claiming that the north parking lot is rarely used.

Those of us who live on the island know this to be untrue. On every weekend from May through September, all the beachfront lots are filled to capacity with local daytrippers. Even during the week, there are substantial numbers of families in cars and campers using the convenience of beachfront parking.

Parking a quarter of a mile away can be a daunting trip in the hot July sun, with three children, a cooler, umbrella, blankets and beach toys.

LLC's beachfront design may well lead to the demise of the annual Blue Grass Festival, which is, to a great extent, dependent on motor home and camper visitors who pack the parking lots well beyond their intended capacities.

Existing parking lots that have a significantly lower impact on the island's fragile environment will be replaced with 1,112 rooms, which in LLC's design model will be in hotels, condos, cottages and vacation homes.

This will equate to a minimum of more than 2,000 additional people using the beaches, bike paths and other amenities. Unlike the daytrippers, they will be on the island 24/7.

One can only imagine the adverse impact this will have on the habitat of the endangered loggerhead turtles that nest in the dune areas between the proposed developments and the ocean.

So who will be served by the new state-of-the-art parking lots a quarter mile from the beach?

Not the ordinary citizens who are mandated by law to have access and have used the island for over 40 years.

Not the protected loggerhead turtles that have nested on the beaches for eons.

And, not the Jekyll Island Authority that will be obligated to repay the $84.5 million bond issue with public money.

The first to be served will be the affluent few, who will be able to purchase beachfront condos that will push the $1 million envelope.

Also served will be the well-heeled visitors who will be able to walk from their rental cottage, time share or hotel room across the tree-lined boulevard and dunes to the beach.

The best served will be Linger Longer Communities, which refuses to publish any data on the obscene amount of money it will make for despoiling "Georgia's jewel."

Jekyll Island Citizens Association,
Jekyll Island, Ga.

No comments: