Wednesday, March 26, 2008

03/23 - Jekyll Island redevelopment: Responses to "Jekyll Island deserves a planned, professional upgrade," issue: March 17 > Opinion
By Frank Mirasola, David Kyler, Jody Butler, Mary Shepherd, Charles Busfield
For the Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/23/08

Lift the lid of the stew pot and find some very unsavory ingredients bubbling

Everything Jay Bookman says about Jekyll Island deserving a planned, professional upgrade is on target. Why is that not happening now? Lift the lid on the stew pot and you can see the ingredients: politicians, developers, bankers, lobbyists, hired toadys and big-time professional "bag men." Nary a conservationist, preservationist or steward for the common good in the crowd.

Even a cursory look at the numbers tells you they are bogus. If they are willing to lie about the small stuff, what are they not telling you about the big stuff? Remember the $10 million tax abatement for a hotel project, the $11.3 million "rainy day" fund, the $25 million to fix infrastructure to facilitate the private partner's revitalization effort? All this bears looking into. It's time to call a halt to this land grab. Let's go back to square one and do it the right way.

Mirasola is president of the Jekyll Island Citizens Association.

Transparency lacking

Jay Bookman's insightful recommendations for planning Jekyll Island prior to redeveloping it parallel our own recommendations for analysis of visitation capacity. Having a reliable capacity target is essential for the state park's revitalization effort to be successful.

Like developing private property, determining the scale, location and composition of development depends on analysis of needs, options and limitations. Unlike developing private property, an important goal for Jekyll Island is fulfilling a thoughtfully defined public interest. By proposing to commit millions of dollars in public funds to support private development without knowing what is needed, the Jekyll Island Authority has accomplished neither.

The great potential legacy for all involved, including the governor, is being squandered by the JIA's aversion to transparency and meaningful public involvement.

Kyler is executive director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast.

Current proposal is one beaut of a sellout

Thanks to Jay Bookman for highlighting the problems with the Jekyll Island Authority's plan to revitalize Jekyll Island. The current proposal calls for considerable development on the island and changes that would impact Jekyll's ecology and the ability of average Georgians to stay in their own state park. State Sen. Jeff Chapman (R-Brunswick) sponsored a bill to protect Jekyll's beaches from private development and preserve the island's affordability. The bill was killed in committee in a quick vote. The authority should listen to citizens concerned with keeping Jekyll affordable for average Georgians and protecting its rare beauty, rather than selling out to the highest bidder.

JODY BUTLER, Carrollton

Island authority time and again ignores wishes of the majority

The Jekyll Island Authority has disappointed our constituents time and time again in favor of high-density development, which has been proved to be unnecessary and detrimental to that island's delicate ecology. The authority seems absolutely determined to ignore the wishes of the majority.

Speaking for citizens of Georgia who will not have access to the kind of development planned, and who seem to have no voice in this matter, I urge everyone to rally against this planned desecration of one of our most valuable natural resources!


Aggressive plans aren't in line with Georgians' best interests

I appreciate the articles published by the AJC over the past weeks informing Georgia citizens about aggressive development plans for Jekyll Island. While Jekyll needs improvements, the current plans are aggressive in the extreme and threaten what Jekyll has long been about. Its fate should be in line with the rightful wishes and best interests of millions of Georgians, not just a nine-member supervisory board whose judgment and practices on this issue have raised serious worthwhile debate.


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