Linger Longer v. the State Auditor

Who is telling the truth? And I still don’t understand why the maker of Cialis is in charge of running Jekyll Island!

Jekyll Island —- depending on who’s talking —- is either in danger of financially slipping into the Atlantic Ocean or is competently keeping its nose above water.

Jekyll’s governing body and development partner Linger Longer say the state park is in dire straits, showing a precipitous decline in both visitors and revenues over the last 15 years. Only the construction of hundreds of condos and hotel rooms can save the state park, they say.

“A significant revitalization is something that will make Jekyll a compelling destination,” said Linger Longer’s Jim Langford.

But wait just a minute.

According to the state auditor, the region’s top legislator and a citizens’ group, Jekyll Island’s condition isn’t that critical. The park still makes money. Visitation drops, on average, only one percent a year. With a few new hotels and shops, Jekyll will be as good as new, they say.

18 comments

  1. The Comma Guy says:

    I know who I trust in this fight.

    There is a rumor down in the Golden Isles that the NYT is sniffing around, looking for a scandal. I’m sure that Linger Longer leaves large bags of cash under the Gold Dome, but that it is purely legal “lobbying.”

  2. mangomama says:

    What’s that saying………there are lies, damn lies, and statistics? Then there’s government “accounting”. As in all things, just follow the money.

  3. landman says:

    The reality here is that the Island needs an overhaul and its long over due in coming,anyone who disaagrees hasn’t been down there lately. The residents would have the Taxpayers come in and pay the tab ,while limiting access to their small group. Attacking a respected Developer with a history of successful enviromentally sound projects is irresponsible and uncalled for.
    I understand that there will be legislation filed next year that will further protect the South end of the island by barring the renewel of any residential leases on this portion of the island once they reach their maturity.This would allow the entire South end of the Island to return it to its natural state(excluding the 4H Center);thus,creating more green spaces and removing any form of developement from that portion of the Island.This would be great for all concerned.

  4. long memory says:

    I can’t help but resent the constant idea that it is the residence of the island that are against the development as pursued by ll. I am not a resident of Jekyll or of the coast. I live in central Georgia. I don’t want this type of development on an island that is PUBLIC property. IF the south end goes all natural that is fine with me. I don’t like the new Canopy Bluffs and its six story lights that shine on the beach and disorient the turtles. I don’t like tons of palm trees that don’t belong on Georgia barrier islands and the destruction of live oaks that do. I don’t see tacky building replacing natural beauty and call it progress. It is not necessary to turn the management of a state property to a for profit company to “save” Jekyll. All it takes is a little common sense and a GOOD advertising campaign. Replace the run down hotels with clean neat properties that fit in with the spirit of the island. As to who is telling the truth, just ask who will gain by the development. I have seen the numbers. I have no property on Jekyll. I will make no money either way. I believe Jeff Chapman.

  5. mj says:

    The reality is that a group which includes a few residents but mostly visitors agrees that revitalization should take place. Five properties are in various stages of complete redevelopment already, excluding the LLC proposal.
    Residents of the island have no interest in having the taxpayers pay for the island- they couldn’t as a matter of law and they all know it. Chapman was called a liar by a few people on the Authority who seem determined to force this development through justified by dubious claims. But he wasn’t lying and the JIA and LLC knew it.

  6. susanme says:

    In the past several months, I have read so many comments that have come from all over the state of Georgia. In these comments the people have said that they didn’t want Linger Longer to build their proposed town center on the main beach or on the public parking lots that front that beach. Linger Longer is not willing to compromise. If they can’t get the “rights” to that beach first then they aren’t interested in the existing hotels and businesses that need to be revitalized.

    For Linger Longers plans the state is going to have to pay for a new convention center. The taxpayers are going to have to spend $84,500,000 to build a new infrastructure to accommodate their plans. If we can spend $84,500,000 and the cost of a new convetion center to build their plans then why can’t we spend this money to build the people of Georgia’s plans– a state park for all Georgians that will accommodate our needs. With the right management in place Georgia can profit financially instead of letting big business profit at the taxpayers expense.

    Senator Chapman has uncovered the truth. He has people of authority backing what he has said. I believe him. I have always believed him. He has no reason to lie. He has listened to the people, and he has represented us in an honorable way. Unlike others he has not turned his back on us. He has stood tall, and I am so proud of him.

  7. bertor says:

    I do not live on Jekyll but elsewhere in Georgia and I have vacationed on Jekyll every year for the past 15 years. I can assure you that Jekyll has more visitors each year as more people discover its natural beauty. Since three of its hotels were demolished in the last couple of years there may be fewer people staying overnite. The use of this State Park increases annually because of its natural beauty. Destroying the huge old oaks and replacing them with time shares will destroy much of its natural beauty.

    Two questions need to be answered by all Georgians:

    1. Do you want your state parks cluttered with time shares and fast food venues?

    2.How much and to whom are financial contributions to political parties that are made by Linger Longer? Insist that these political contributions—both to state and national politicians–be made public now.

    I also wonder if Jim Langford has sold his soul for a mess of pottage.

  8. cicadadiva says:

    I trust my own eyes and ears. Since about 2000, when I started watching and listening closely to what was happening on Jekyll Island, I have suspected that certain properties were being allowed to fall into disrepair through purposeful neglect so that a big developer could bail the island out. What started out as rumblings, rumor and innuendo have proven that my suspicions were accurate. The JIA has received written, signed input from over 7,000 visitors to the island, who agree unanimously that the island is in need of revitalization, but who also agree that revitalization should be limited to the current redevelopment of the hotels that are in disrepair, renovation of the convention center and the retail district, and expanding family dining options. The Town Center idea has been slipped in under the rug, and the powers that be have never even questioned whether 63 acres of retail shops, restaurants, condos, and hotels should be added to the several major properties which are in fact already being redeveloped. Anyone who stands up to plead for a more conservative approach is labeled by the JIA, both in print and in public meetings, as either a “crank,” a “naysayer,” or a “fringe person.” These behaviors on the part of a public authority are at best unprofessional, and at worst a blatant betrayal of the public trust.

  9. Vicki says:

    Thank you Senator Chapman for bringing to light the financial situation of the JIA that was no fully disclosed. This distortion, along with the distortion of drastic deterioration of visitors to the island is now backfiring as the JIA used these tactics to get what they and Linger Longer desire, not what Georgians desire for their state park. Yes, Mr. Garvey, statistics do matter, and it does matter that they have been distorted and overstated! Georgians adore this pristine island and to let a developer overdevelop and develop on the beach area that is currently accessible during high tide is all in the name of money. I was humiliated at attending several meetings where supporters of responsible revitalization were present and members of the JIA did not even acknowledge their presence! They could not look them in the eyes! The JIA does not have any interest in being a steward or guardian to Georgia’s magnificent natural gift. What will save the park, is the overhaul of members of the JIA who care more about politics than people and preserving our precious island.

  10. Frank Mirasola says:

    The Jekyll Lie

    There is a political strategy successfully employed in our nation over the past several years that follows the following model; Tell a lie, keep repeating the lie through many sources until it gains acceptance as fact. Once the lie/fact is widely accepted, launch your “grand scheme”. Remember “WMDS”?

    On Jekyll Island it began with “run down hotels” which became “a roach ridden, bug infested, mildewed,decrepit, unsafe State Park”. Once that “fact” was established beyond question, it was time to add a new dimension. “No one goes there anymore.” “Only residents use the Causeway.” “It is a ghost town.” “Visitations have fallen off the precipice.”

    Having established another “fact”, it was time for the coup de grace “the JIA is operating in the red”. “The Authority has been running at a loss for the past four years.” The place is a drain on the state Treasury.

    Now it became time to launch the “grand scheme”. “REVITALIZE” that is the only way to correct years of inept management and neglect. Privatize, bring in a “white knight” to make things better. Everyone agreed, the Governor, the leadership of the House, Senate and all the local leadership. It was undeniable.

    Wake up Georgia, look at the cold hard facts, yes some hotels are being replaced and a few more will follow. Yes there is a need for a newly renovated convention center with new technology. NO there is no reason to give the “peoples park” away. There has never been a precipitous drop in visitations or revenue. The state’s own records bear out the truth.

    Don’t believe the lies, save our state park for 9 million Georgians.

    Jekyll Phranque

  11. sassysue says:

    I, too, agree that Jekyll Island does not need to be cluttered with condos and fast food venues. Linger Longer states that only the construction of hundreds of condos and hotel rooms can SAVE the state park. Is is not necessary to even build condos on Jekyll Island! What this boils down to is these developers want that oceanfront beach property that is sitting there undeveloped. If all of this revitalization is needed, then maybe the question should be, who has been managing, or not, Jekyll Island in previous years? Instead of hiring a for profit company, maybe we need to rethink the current management team!

  12. Vicki says:

    Thank you for your comment, Mr. Mirasola. Speaking of hotels, we stayed at the now demoslished Buccaneer several times a year. It did need some renovation, but it was always clean and comfortable. Furthermore, when we were in the hotel, we were often on a large balcony with a perfect view of the sea. This was a “dog friendly” hotel that was clean and did not have pet odors. I doubt that the Canopy Bluff, which by the why, looks like it belongs in a metropolitan setting, will allow dogs, or feature very private quiet balconys with exquisite views at an affordable rate. This is off topic a bit, but a little bit of retrospect in “how horrible the hotels are” is a good reminder of what Linger Longer talks of so that the Destin lovers can also love Jekyll.

  13. turtleadvocate says:

    Just a quick couple of points. 1) The Jekyll Island State Park Authority denies that their accounting methods are faulty. They just put their grant and tax income into an account that they did not show to the public. They reported their revenue income versus their expenditures, and showed it as a negative figure for one particular year, without showing that they had substantial grant and tax income to cover the red ink. What would the IRS do to you and me if we were to report a salary/expenditure loss, without admitting that we had grant and tax income of 7 figures to cover the loss?! 2) We keep hearing the LLC argument to the effect that their Beach Village condos are a must for balancing the Park’s budget, and that new hotels to replace the deteriorated ones won’t bring in enough revenue. Let us remember that ALL of the new hotels are planning a substantial number of condominiums to go along with their hotel rooms. In addition, the Clarion Beachfront Hotel is planning a number of new condominiums. These new hotels with new condominiums are already on the planning table, and they will bring in a big sackful of new dollars to the Park Authority, to go alongside the budget that was quietly doing well already (as Senator Chapman has allowed the public to see).

  14. charliebob says:

    Jekyll Island is a unique place, “Georgia’s Jewel” for sure. As it’s been for decades. It is a lovely, unpretentious, non-exclusive place of natural beauty.

    No mega-development is needed. As countless others have said, and surely will say, all that is needed is to renovate existing lodgings and perhaps modernize the golf course. That’s it.

    I think mega-development would be wrong on a profound scale. As Georgians, I hope we do not let it happen.

  15. Icarus says:

    A lot of new posters commenting on this, which is good. Plus, a lot of the state appears to be chiming in, which is better.

    Haven’t followed this very closely, but I am very concerned that the Georgia Republicans are rapidly gaining the K-Street reputation that the Congressional Republican’s got tagged with in 2006, deservedly so.

    The problem is, they look at all their friends, who are doing the same thing, and everyone tells each other it’s O.K., until there’s an Abramoff eruption. Then everyone wonders how it happend.

    This appears to be a canary in the coal mine moment for the GA GOP. Jeff Chapman appears to be pointing to some dead birds on the floor, and no one else he serves with wants to look at them, apparently.

    Question for those who are following this more closely: Is this a done deal, or can it still be stopped? If so, how?

  16. agz says:

    Thank you Sen. Chapman for finding out the truth and supporting the wishes of many Georgians and other visitors to Jekyll Island. Thanks also to Rep. Buckner for introducing supporting legislation in the House. Jekyll Island is a special place, and I hope together we can continue the fight to save Jekyll from over-development. The proposed development of Linger Longer gives private developers an opportunity to make money at the taxpayers expense ($84.5 million for infracture alone). This developoment is not needed to revitalize Jekyll Island.

  17. peetziepie says:

    On the one hand we have competent, forthright, justice oriented state legislators like Sen. Chapman and Rep. Buckner willing to respond to thousands of Georgians’ concerns about the future of Jekyll Island all in a non-partisan manner ! How refreshing in contrast to the arrogant attitude of the Jekyll Island Authority staff, gubernatorial appointed Board Members and their new ‘partners’ the GOP fundraiser extraordinaire Mercer Reynolds’ and family.

  18. Beachlover says:

    Hmm. The state auditor, the region’s top legislator and a citizens’ group all say the park is making money and that tourism is dropping only slightly, probably no more than the high gasoline prices are making tourism drop in other places as well. Land developer Linger Longer and its partner say Jekyll needs the construction of hundreds of condos, time-shares, hotel rooms, and a 102,000 square foot retail center in order to survive. Auditor, legislator, residents, citizens group who have personal experience with Jekyll don’t want all this development – the land development company does. Not too great a mystery here is there? Obviously the real estate needy land development company recognizes a big money making location when they see one. Obviously the rest of us recognize carpetbaggers when we see them.

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