Saturday, November 24, 2007

11/21 - 'Big picture' still left out

Date: November 21, 2007
Section(s): Letters
Saturday's front page article highlighted the main issues in the debate over Jekyll Island State Park's revitalization but somehow managed to get the big picture all wrong.

The debate is not between those opposed to and in favor of the park's redevelopment, as the article suggested, but rather between two approaches to this necessary step.

Consider this: Nearly everyone I've heard from about this issue, including the 5,000 plus supporters of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island, believes that Jekyll's beachfront hotels need to be redeveloped, its convention center updated, and its amenities enhanced.

They support redevelopment but not lining the park's main beach with half-million dollar condos, time-shares, and a luxury 400-room hotel, as proposed by Linger Longer Communities.

The article notes that the proposed development would rest on only a small slice of Jekyll's nine miles of beach but fails to mention that this same slice of land represents virtually all of the park's most popular public beach.

Are the needs of the general public best served by developing this beachfront as proposed by Linger Longer or by continuing to provide easy access to this wonderful asset?

Clearly, the dispute over Jekyll's revitalization is not a matter of being for or against change. It's about rival concepts of how the park should be redeveloped.

One sees Jekyll moving forward in harmony with its founding principles of affordability and accessibility.

The other, well, the color picture of the luxury hotel on the front page of the Saturday edition of The Brunswick News says it all.

Laura Renke

This is an intrusion on a fragile ecosystem

I returned to Glynn County just in time to read the latest salvo of words dealing with the ongoing battle for Jekyll Island. The battlelines are well defined and the rhetoric is flowing.

I personally am opposed to any major intrusion on such a fragile ecosystem. The impact of such an undertaking on this pride of the Georgia coast could prove to be devastating.

If anybody out there is gullible enough to believe that developers have the best interest of nature and the general public as their priority, then there's a certain bridge across the Brunswick River I would like to sell you.

It's about big bucks, people, plain and simple.

Jekyll Island was purchased many years ago through the efforts of Gov. M.E. Thompson and the Georgia General Assembly and purposed to remain a pristine, wondrous blend of sea and maritime forest to be enjoyed by generations of Georgians at a nominal cost, not a resource to be exploited.

If the developers and politicians have their way, all of that will be sacrificed in the name of greed. Once it happens and people begin to realize what they have lost, it will be too late.

There are ways to improve on existing structures, even the raising of new hotel/motels in the footprints of the old.

But major construction of the scale proposed will be the death knell to this slice of paradise on the Georgia coast.

Thomas B. Scott

Development should be preceded by study

My husband taught coastal biology to Emory University students for 16 summers.

He used as an example the unspoiled parts of Jekyll Island to indicate the fragile ecosystem of a barrier island and why it's important to protect it..

Any development could adversely upset the ecosystem.

Before any change, an environmental study should be done and guidelines provided to protect the island for the people for whom it was created.

Any development that is allowed to occur should be in keeping with the Jekyll Island State Park Authority Act - House Bill 604, 1950 Section 8.

It calls for operation of the public facilities at the park at rates so moderate that all the ordinary citizens of the state may enjoy them.

The Linger Longer proposal does not allow facilities that will satisfy the act.

The Jekyll Island Authority seems to have lost sight of the state mandate.

Professor Emeritus and Mrs. William E. Brillhart
St. Simons Island

Misconceptions to be cleared on Jekyll

I am writing this letter to correct some of the misconceptions regarding the residents on Jekyll Island.

The residents are not opposed to development on the Island. We agree that the island needs new or updated hotels/motels, a new or updated convention center and an updated shopping center.

What we don't want is a town center that belongs at a resort area, not on a barrier island state park.

The proposed plan would not allow easy access to the beach, would endanger the loggerhead turtle - already an endangered species - and would deny the average Georgian amenities presently afforded them on the island.

Another misconception is that we pay very little to live on Jekyll Island.

If you compare a residence elsewhere in the area to one of equal value on Jekyll, the Jekyll resident pays more at the end of the year because not only do we pay real estate taxes, county and school, but we also pay a lease and fire fee, as well as for water, sewer and trash pick-up services.

We care so much for the privilege of living on this beautiful state park that we contribute thousands of hours of volunteer work a year for the benefit of visitors.

Sandy Cerrato
Jekyll Island

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