Friday, February 29, 2008

02/27 - Senator: Jekyll misrepresented revenue, visitor numbers > Metro
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 02/27/08

A state senator on Tuesday accused the Jekyll Island Authority of misrepresenting revenue and visitor numbers to make the case for more development in the state park.

Sen. Jeff Chapman (R-Brunswick), whose district includes the barrier island, said his research showed the authority under-reported revenue by $11.3 million over the past 10 years. He said it had not reported a reserve account until recently.

"The picture is not as bad [as the authority wants] people to believe it is," he said. "This attitude that they've got to build hundreds and hundreds of condominiums and sell those condominiums and this big commercial hub, and building it on the people's open parking and beach area, is not necessary. It's unwise."

Authority Chairman Ben Porter, a businessman who has developed coastal property, said Tuesday he had not had a chance to review Chapman's numbers.

"I have no idea what he's talking about," Porter said. "I couldn't comment on anything until I see what he said."

Chapman said he has not run his figures, which he got through research in the State Archives, by the authority, which he said had not responded to earlier requests for information.

Chapman is pushing three bills to let the island's hotels and conference center be rebuilt on their existing footprints but not allow more homes or condominiums.

The authority approved a developer's $352 million, 64-acre project to add 1,100 hotel, condo, cottage and time-share units to the park, which would require demolishing the convention center and a parking lot.

"I'm sure everybody would like to have a condo or home in a state park," Chapman said, "but that's simply not the right thing."

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