Wednesday, November 14, 2007

11/10 - Jekyll - Why couldn't it use development?

Date November 10, 2007
Section(s) Commentary
The Brunswick News

OK, so tell us why nice hotels, a nice shopping plaza and a more inviting environment for enjoying the bountiful amenities of Jekyll Island is a bad idea? Tell us again why 550 permanent jobs - and that's not counting the 500 temporary construction jobs that will be generated - an estimated $13 million in hotel/motel taxes and $28.5 million in tax revenue is not a good idea for any Georgian, including average Georgians?

This and more is what all Georgians will get when a 21st century plan is implemented that involves the redevelopment of that which is already developed on the state-owned island. This is a plan for everyone, not just a few.

If barrier islands being left in their natural state is what naysayers want, Georgia has them covered. There's Cumberland Island, Sapelo Island, Ossabaw Island - to name just a few. Sapelo and Ossabaw are state wildlife management islands, and Cumberland is a national seashore.

What Georgia does not have - what it lacks - is an island where individuals, families, groups and organizations can go alone or as a group, large and small, to enjoy a week or a weekend close to the seashore and close to nature in a setting that is modern, new and comfortable.

That's what the Jekyll Island authority has had in mind all along. And it's what it has in mind still today. Members of the authority are intelligent enough to understand that it would be unwise to ruin or destroy the very essence of the island, the very ambiance, that makes Georgia's Jewel alluring.

It is not a surfing beach. Far from it. Nor will it ever be. It's a tranquil, back-to-nature place that, at present, very few people who live deep inland can enjoy because of the lack of accommodations. Families look elsewhere, as do Georgia-grown organizations, to bask near the ocean.

At Stone Mountain State Park, another park that is owned by the state and another park that is overseen by a governor-appointed authority, don't expect to find cheap rates. There are only two hotels, in fact, inside the park. There's the Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort, where nightly room rates start at $199 and climb as high as $429, and there's the Marriott Stone Mountain Inn, which is at the lower end of the scale. Its nightly rates range from $149 to $249.

Believe it or not, the cost of the inside hotels does not keep average Georgians out of Stone Mountain Park, though.

There also is a campground inside Stone Mountain Park - an opportunity for moms, dads and children to get out and enjoy nature together, which many do. Jekyll Island has a campground, too - a well used one, at that.

Georgia needs this development proposed for Jekyll Island. It needs the attraction and the jobs that it will produce.

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