Tuesday, November 20, 2007

11/19 - State analysis on Jekyll was good call

Date: November 19, 2007
Section(s): Commentary

Sen. Tommie Williams probably did the right thing when he asked Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker to review concerns expressed by this district's own senator. It just might - and that's a big if - put much of the controversy surrounding the ambitious redevelopment proposal for the Jekyll Island oceanfront to rest.

Sen. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick, asked Sen. Williams - co-chair of the Jekyll Island Legislative Oversight Committee - to request an official legal analysis by the state. The analysis will focus on a number of issues concerning contracts signed, incentives awarded and the overall objective of the plan that's designed to breathe new life into the aging, listless beachfront of Jekyll Island.

By requesting the review, Sen. Williams is respecting the wishes of Sen. Chapman, and that's good. It is how it should be. Sen. Chapman's voice should be heard. He does speak for the voters on Jekyll Island, after all.

Sen. Williams knows what it's like to be slighted by colleagues. It wasn't too terribly long ago, after all, when a Jekyll Island study committee named by the then Democratic-controlled General Assembly left him out of the loop, passing him over for a Democrat, even though the Lyons Republican represented Jekyll Island at the time.

Interestingly, one of the issues the Attorney General Baker will be asked to grapple with and clarify is whether the redevelopment plan, which includes new hotels and a convention center, ignores the wishes of the state when Georgia first took over the island in the late 1940s. Opponents of what is being proposed to reinvigorate Georgia's Jewel on the Coast are of the opinion that new facilities will put the island out of reach of "average" Georgians.

Linger Longer and the Jekyll Island Authority have assured them that it won't. And members of the Jekyll Island Legislative Oversight Committee - elected officials all - feel confident that they are correct. Now, the attorney general, another elected official, will weigh in on the debate.

When the attorney general will complete the evaluation, is anyone's guess. Sen. Williams can't answer that question

Hopefully, he let it be known that there is a sense of urgency here. It's a plan that is already in motion. Linger Longer Communities, Jekyll Island Authority's partner in the redevelopment plan, is now holding public hearings. And the Buccaneer - an icon to the neglect the state park has suffered over the years - is coming down.

No comments: