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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jekyll Island -- some background, plus new developments

Jekyll Island Jeff Chapman Linger Longer

WHO BENEFITS? Critics say plans to build condos, hotels and a retail center may cut off this public beach from Jekyll's day visitors.

Woe is Jekyll Island, the pristine beach getaway that has fallen into disrepair. Visitors across the state have voiced concerns about plans by a developer – and the actions of the governor-appointed Jekyll Island Authority that oversees the barrier island – to revitalize the state park.

Linger Longer Communities, a development company owned by two GOP cash cows – and fundraisers for presidential hopeful John McCain and potential veep Gov. Sonny Perdue – wants to build a “town center," hotels and posh condos near a prized public beach.

What’s even more worrisome: Bills proposed by state Sen. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick, to protect the island from development have been stonewalled by members of his own party in a legislative committee. Sen. Chapman agrees that the island is in need of revamping, but says the process needs to be responsible and the result affordable for all Georgians.

"If they manage to stop or kill good legislation, then they’ll have a free hand to do anything they want,” Chapman says.

Chapman went on the offensive yesterday and slammed the authority for underreporting its revenues and visitor numbers. The authority's critics have repeatedly claimed that the data it uses to show a sharp decline in visitors is misleading, noting that the statistics intentionally omitted season pass holders.

For more information, visit the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island.

(Photo by Greg Lowery)

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