The Jekyll Island Authority is at it again, this time endorsing a density study conducted by the Bleakly Advisory Group, which claims the proposed 150 percent increase in the state park's year-round residences and rental accommodations by the year 2023 would still make Jekyll "significantly less developed than other comparable coastal destinations in terms of resident and seasonal population, housing density and traffic volumes."
Truth be told, Bleakly based his calculations on a U.S. Census Bureau report that includes more than 5,000 acres of marshland, most of which surrounds the six-mile long Jekyll Causeway, as part of Jekyll Island. By artificially doubling Jekyll's real size, Bleakly attempted to show that, on a per acre basis, the built-up Jekyll of the future would not be overdeveloped or overcrowded, when, in fact, the exact opposite would be true.
But Bleakly's misrepresentation of the truth does not end there. He ignored the fact that 65 percent of Jekyll Island must, by law, remain in its natural state.
When population and housing units per acre are calculated on the basis of the legally developable portion of the island, Jekyll would rank at the top of the list in virtually all density categories with regard to the other coastal vacation sites selected by Bleakly as comparables.
The JIA has tried to lend some support to Bleakly's misrepresentations by claiming that the proposed massive increase in the number of the park's lodging and housing units will simply restore the park's built environment to its peak level, which was reached back in the 1980s. The truth is that during its peak years the park had 2,300 lodging/housing units, not the 4,000 units forecasted by the JIA.
Enough of the exaggerations and misrepresentations. The public deserves to know the truth. Jekyll Island is, after all, a state park set aside for the plain people of Georgia; it is not a private resort as the JIA would have us believe.
The people, as the true owners of the island park, should have a say in Jekyll's redevelopment. Instead, they are continually misled by a JIA board that seems determined to slip one by the public and allow a private developer to commercialize the people's park.
Sen. Jeff Chapman
Chapman represents Brantley, Camden, Charlton, Glynn, and McIntosh counties, which comprise the Third Senate District. For more information, visit his website at www.jeffchapman.us or call him at (912) 399-8683.