Friday, January 11, 2008

01/10 - Jekyll developer says Chapman wrong

Date January 10, 2008
Section(s) Local News
The Brunswick News

The man who's heading up the proposed multi-million dollar revitalization of Jekyll Island says Sen. Jeff Chapman has it all wrong.

The public will have just as much access to the beach that it has today when the new Jekyll Town Center is built at the waterfront, says Jim Langford, project executive for Linger Longer Communities.

Linger Longer is spearheading the $441 million development, which includes new hotels, a new convention center, shopping district and condominiums, for the Jekyll Island Authority.

Chapman, R-Brunswick, the only Georgia legislator who is speaking publicly against the Jekyll Island plan, is soliciting support for a resolution that asks the General Assembly to prohibit taking up the large asphalt parking lots on the front beach. He said reconfiguring the lots, as proposed in the revitalization plan, would deny beachgoers easy access to the sand and surf, he said.

"He claims that a proposed revitalization of a small portion of the island 'threatens to severely diminish direct access to virtually all of the park's main public beach.' To be kind, this claim is completely off the mark," Langford said in a prepared statement released Wednesday.

"Under the proposed plan, every current public access point will continue to exist and the beach will be as open as ever to all visitors. In addition, changing facilities and restrooms will be upgraded to further accommodate everyone, particularly day visitors."

Langford, noting visitation to the island has dropped by more than 47 percent since 1990 due in part to aging facilities and infrastructure, said the revitalization is designed to draw Georgians back to Jekyll.

He said Chapman's contention that the town center will block the beach is also not true, he said.

"In fact, the existing convention center currently blocks much of the view and it will be moved further inland under the plan," Langford said. "It is also important to note that of the nine miles of Jekyll beaches, the beach village site will border only about 4,000 feet, less than 10 percent of the total beachfront area. And every inch of this beach will continue to be just as available to the public as it is today."

Langford said eliminating the asphalt parking is the environmentally friendly thing to do. Runoff from the impervious pavement can cause beach erosion and pollution, he said.

"Under the revitalization plan, these unsightly and environmentally unfriendly lots will be replaced with over 2,000 parking spaces on porous surfaces bordered by trees," he said. "These porous surfaces will ensure that nearly 100 percent of rainwater is captured and reused in an appropriate way that protects the natural environment.

"In addition to the environmental improvements, parking will be spread throughout the town center and a short walk from the beach and other amenities. More than 700 of these spaces will be within a three-minute minute walk of the beach."

He said maps of the proposed parking can be found at

"The essence of the plan is to enhance access to Jekyll while adhering to environmentally sensitive design and construction," he said.

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