Saturday, January 12, 2008

01/12 - Jekyll focus shifts to Atlanta

Sat, Jan 12, 2008
The Brunswick News

When the Jekyll Island Authority convenes its meeting at the state Capitol in Atlanta Tuesday, board members will likely see a row of familiar faces in the audience.

Among them will be Woody Woodside, president of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce.

Woodside is one of a number of community leaders who supports the proposed $441 million revitalization of Jekyll Island and who wants the authority and its partner in the project – Linger Longer Communities – to know it.

"There are a number of interested business and elected leaders who plan to attend the meeting," Woodside said. "I would imagine that they would be expressing their support of the JIA and its efforts to revitalize Jekyll."

The 2:30 p.m. JIA meeting will open with an update on the project.

Comments will be limited, so Woodside is unsure how many persons will be allowed to speak.

It may not be too many because supporters may have to share the floor with opponents of the project.

The Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island, a group opposed to the project, is asking those aligned with it to try to be present for the update and to be prepared to comment. Among other things, the group is embracing a resolution being promoted by state Sen. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick, that asks that the paved parking lots on the front beach be left alone.

"The (initiative) is attending the Atlanta JIA meeting primarily to share with the board and oversight committee the views some 5,000 Jekyll visitors regarding the revitalization of Jekyll Island State Park," said David Egan, group organizer. "We hope to convey the message that our group stands firmly behind hotel and convention center redevelopment as necessary steps in the revitalization process, the results of which should help determine if additional redevelopment is needed."

The meeting will follow a session by the Jekyll Island Legislative Oversight Committee, chaired by House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island, and state Sen. Tommie Williams, R-Lyons.

It won't be the time or place to speak. Keen said the legislative committee will not open the floor to public comment.

"We don't make policy decisions," Keen said. "We'll just hear from the authority and staff. They'll just give us an update."

Keen said he has been contacted by opponents and supporters of the Jekyll Island project.

"The goal here is the revitalization of Jekyll so people will return to Jekyll, which they aren't doing right now," Keen said.

Keen, stressing that the final design of the project has not been submitted to the Jekyll Island Authority for approval, said the oversight committee wants to see a turnaround in current conditions on the island.