Boosted by a contingent lured from the nearby Georgia Farm Bureau Convention, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue led a small but enthusiastic group of boosters and state officials Monday to celebrate the official start of the long-anticipated and much-debated revitalization of Jekyll Island.
Jekyll Island Authority workers lowered a 16-foot palm tree into the sand at the future site of the Great Dunes Park as Perdue and a crew of dignitaries shoveled in ceremonial sand to demonstrate that, though the revitalization brings hopes for lots of visitors and revenue, Jekyll’s environment will be central to the effort.
In his speech, Gov. Perdue emphasized that Jekyll Island, once a popular convention site, has steadily lost customers as its hotels and restaurants slipped into decline. The Farm Bureau has held 41 annual conventions at Jekyll but most groups have long since wandered elsewhere.
The $170 million revitalization push, which is to include a new convention center, new recreation opportunities, new hotels, new restaurants, and new cottages, is meant to bring people back to Jekyll while maintaining the island’s natural appeal. (click http://jekyllislandauthority.org/ for more details)
Jekyll’s new theme is “It’s All Good.” I’m inclined to agree.
However, the fellow standing next to me during Perdue’s speech was doubtful that the planned building projects will overcome beaches and water that are less appealing than the sand and waves of South Carolina and Florida.
“Only one thing will bring people to Jekyll,” he said. “A casino. Tear down that convention center and put in a casino.”