Monday, February 25, 2008

02/22 - Jekyll plan opponents need to learn the facts

Date February 22, 2008
Section(s) Commentary
It's easy to get people to object to a project, especially when they allow someone to define it without studying or, at the very least, eyeballing the plan themselves. That tends to happen quite often.

It's happening right here, in Brunswick and the Golden Isles. Opponents of the proposed major redevelopment of previously developed property and public facilities on Jekyll Island claim the plan will rob Georgians of what is rightly theirs.

Not true. What has been proposed by the Jekyll Island Authority and Linger Longer Communities will take up only a fraction of the state park. For the most part, it will replace what is already there. The difference is that it will be newer, better, more attractive - and hence, more likely to be used by citizens of the Peach State.

Here's another fact: It is still well within the 35 percent development mark established and set by the state legislature decades ago.

Fortunately, city and county officials in this community, most of whom are aware of Jekyll Island's difficulty in drawing a crowd these days, understand this. Fortunately, they are familiar with the plan to improve and strengthen the state park's magnetism. And fortunately, the majority are willing to say so in an official vote. City commissioners endorsed the concept during their regular session Wednesday. County commissioners, already on record as backing revitalization, did likewise Thursday, passing a resolution reaffirming their support.

What Linger Longer Communities is planning is something that would be nice for everyone, for all Georgians and for every visitor and guest who crosses the state line to vacation here. In addition to having a nice place to spend with family, they would have a destination that they could enjoy, as well as learn about, nature and the coastal environment.

And if, in the meantime, their presence in greater numbers yields jobs and higher incomes for individuals and families - well, that's a good thing, right?

Honestly, it's hard to see what all the fuss is about. As has been stated frequently in previous editorials, there is no way on earth that Jekyll Island could ever become another Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head Island. Those who make such claims are speaking without thinking. There is that 35/65 development ratio, for starters.

Besides, that is not what Jekyll Island is all about. It's about family, enjoying the outdoors, sipping on nature. That is the island's greatest asset and the very asset that any prudent developer would ardently protect.

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