The alleged Jekyll Island Revitalization Plan is fundamentally a plan to revitalize the pocketbooks of developers and their political cronies at the expense of dismantling major parts of the No. 1 Georgia State Park.
There are at least eleven things fundamentally wrong and objectionable with the Reynolds Linger Longer proposal as critiqued during the Public Input Meetings on November 14, 2007. Linger Longer:
1. Closes off 0.7 mile of Beachview Drive between Days Inn and Blackbeard’s Restaurant and closes off about 0.5 mile of the Ben Fortson Parkway between the toll booth and the present Convention Center.
2. Diverts the above roads through the proposed crowded Linger Longer village.
3. Eliminates public parking along the beach between Days Inn and Blackbeards Restaurant thereby denying public access to these beaches and privatizing the beaches for the Reynolds village. This is a violation of Georgia law. The JIA’s “Private Partner” plan turns out to be “Privatization Partner”.
4. Crowds 277 condos, 160 timeshare units and 725 hotel rooms into the Linger Longer village. This amounts to 1577 bedrooms and more than doubles the total number of hotel and condo bedrooms on Jekyll Island currently. These are in addition to the hundreds of units planned at the former Holiday Inn and Buccaneer sites. It is strange that the JIA has to bribe a developer with residential leases in order to build more hotel space.
5. The proposed high rise unit interferes with turtle nesting on the adjacent beachfront. Logger-head turtles are an endangered species. It is ironic that the JIA has constructed a center to rehabilitate injured turtles while at the same time it seriously disrupts turtle habitat.
6. Threatens to exceed the present cap of 1.85 million gallon per day water use permitted for Jekyll Island by the DNR. Overpumping Jekyll wells would cause salt water intrusion and render existing wells unusable.
7. Creates a path from the village to the Historic District which crosses a maritime forest, wetlands, and encroaches on an active bald eagle nest.
8. Destroys the existing Jekyll Convention Center which caters to tens of thousands of convention attendees of modest means. The taxpayers of Georgia spent 6 million dollars for a complete renovation of this Convention Center in 1996.
9. Violates the affordability/availability of Jekyll accommodations required by Jekyll law.
10. Creates a network of flooded borrow pits to obtain the thousands of cubic yards of landfill required for Linger Longer building.
11. Last but not least, requires Georgia citizens to fund an 84.5 million dollar bond issue for infrastructure improvements. In other words, in return for the 80 year lease of 64 acres of valuable oceanfront land plus the destruction of State Roads and the Convention Center, Reynolds wants the State to borrow 84.5 million dollars for their benefit.
Although Senator Chapman attended and actively participated in the Public Input Session on November 14, 2007, there was no sign of our local Representative and Majority Leader Jerry Keen. Perhaps he could not stand the heat. There is ample evidence that Representative Jerry Keen was an architect of this scheme to promote massive development and privatization of the beachfront center of Jekyll Island. It is an open secret that he wants to run for the U.S. Senate and will need friends in high places. Keen was ignorant of the fact that Jekyll Island is part of the Georgia State Park system when the scheme to sell Jekyll was hatched.