Golden Isles

Let it not be said that our far Northwest state, Alaska, has a monopoly on Nowhere. While their “Bridge to Nowhere” garnered much national attention on the political and comedy circuit, here in Southeast Georgia, we’ve got a whole lot of nowhere. Not only have we got the state Department of Transportation doing a major expansion of a road to nowhere from two lanes to four, we’ve got a peninsula on our island (bet you didn’t know that it was possible to have a peninsula on an insula), sporting more than fifteen mapped roads that aren’t to be found on the ground.

First things first. Our friendly environmental watchdog, James Holland, has been much agitated for months, if not years, about the insults being visited by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) on the wetlands and streams adjacent to what is commonly referred to as the Spur 25 or, more formally, the extension of the Golden Isles Parkway. Sometimes he flies over and sometimes he’s at ground level, but the annotated pictures Holland sends out to agitate all and sundry public officials are never pretty. One wonders if their imperturbability and resistance to correction is endemic. There’s no refuting the evidence. Some recent examples:

#2-6952---9-27-14 Dirt off site at Spur 25 DOT Project

6885---9-27-14 Spur 25 site

6902-9-27-14-Spur-25-site-small
I suppose the question that has to be asked about that culvert pipe waiting to be buried, along with the remnants of that watery ditch, is whether it’s a “water of the state” that’s entitled to be protected, along with whatever critters have taken up residence there, if it’s a man-made ditch in the first place. Given the responses from state and local “authorities” so far, the answer would seem to be “no.” Perhaps, if they were honest, the GDOT would tell us, “If we built it we can damn well destroy it. So there.”

BMPs stands for Best Management Practices and can refer to silt fences, straw bales, rip-rap — anything that prevents storm events from eroding dirt and burying organisms in sediment.

Did they build it? Evidence from the extension of the Spur 25 that isn't being widened, at present, would suggest that they did. Here's a picture of naturalized ditches and culverts bringing a streamlet south. What the culverts are discharging is water from the wetland on the north side of the road where the bank is nicely protected from eroding by a bit of rip-rap (granite chunks) on both sides.
Did they build it? Evidence from the extension of the Spur 25 that isn’t being widened, at present, would suggest that they did. Here’s a picture of naturalized ditches and culverts bringing a streamlet south. What the culverts are discharging is water from the wetland on the north side of the road where the bank is nicely protected from eroding by a bit of rip-rap (granite chunks) on both sides.

riprap-protecting-inflow-to-culvers-under-Spur-25

 

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Although Spur 25 dead ends at this pile of rubble and a gate, beyond which lies, wonder of wonders, a sewer lift station belonging to the Joint Water and Sewer Commission (JWSC) of Brunswick and Glynn County, the end of the road also tells a story of what used to be.
Although Spur 25 dead ends at this pile of rubble and a gate, beyond which lies, wonder of wonders, a sewer lift station belonging to the Joint Water and Sewer Commission (JWSC) of Brunswick and Glynn County, the end of the road also tells a story of what used to be.

Wetland-beyond-end-of-the-road

Spur-panorama
It’s a fresh-water marsh, as pretty as can be, with some swamp land in the distance — aka “wetland,” a pejorative in some circles. The “Marshes of Glynn” may be storied, but there are some people (foresters and developers today and Spanish troops trying to invade long ago) who do not like places that are wet. Their ideal vista looks more like this.
Or even better.
Or even better.
6923---9-27-14 Spur 25 site
The Estates at Golden Isles, located many miles from the ocean and putting the lie to the promise that “if you build it, they will come.” Not all the developments for which water and sewer lines and TWO water towers (one on stilts and one hugging the ground) have been installed, along with hundred of fire plugs, are as desolate as the Estates at Golden Isles or Plantation Crossing or Sweetwater at Golden Isles. Holland’s last picture from the Spur is of the entrance to a gated enclave, the Villas at Golden Isles, whose neighbors, at the Landings, across the soon-to-be four lane, have gone so far as to organize a neighborhood watch. Perhaps, having felt secure enough to buy into an open neighborhood, gates sprouting like mushrooms have made them suspicious.

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I suppose I could have entitled this post "Gates, gates, everywhere," but to my way of thinking, behind every gate is a nowhere place. Some places are just more nowhere than others, even when, or perhaps because, they have fancy or allusive names. The peninsula extending north from Saint Simons Island is a case in point. Actually, it's Cannon's Point.
I suppose I could have entitled this post “Gates, gates, everywhere,” but to my way of thinking, behind every gate is a nowhere place. Some places are just more nowhere than others, even when, or perhaps because, they have fancy or allusive names. The peninsula extending north from Saint Simons Island is a case in point. Actually, it’s Cannon’s Point.
"Limited access," apparently a new euphemism for "gate," is secured by two gates. It's not very welcoming.
“Limited access,” apparently a new euphemism for “gate,” is secured by two gates. It’s not very welcoming.
But not totally exclusive. The guardian of the gateslet's all with the magic numbers pass.
But not totally exclusive. The guardian of the gateslet’s all with the magic numbers pass.
Which raises the suspicion that perhaps there's more to the "cultural heritage" that's to be preserved -- more than a tabby cabin or a midden of oyster shells. And, indeed, there is. To begin with, there are the Jones heirs, whose heritage has been severely diminished since the Sea Island Company went belly up. Surely they're entitled to keep the contents of their trusts secure from prying eyes. The yellow circle shows where the public is going to be allowed once the Land Trust people get through messing with the marsh.
Which raises the suspicion that perhaps there’s more to the “cultural heritage” that’s to be preserved — more than a tabby cabin or a midden of oyster shells. And, indeed, there is. To begin with, there are the Jones heirs, whose heritage has been severely diminished since the Sea Island Company went belly up. Surely they’re entitled to keep the contents of their trusts secure from prying eyes. The yellow circle shows where the public is going to be allowed once the Land Trust people get through messing with the marsh.
Of course, preservation isn't necessarily protective. The machines in the garden (not worth hiding for just eight hours a week) already provide evidence of that.
Of course, preservation isn’t necessarily protective. The machines in the garden (not worth hiding for just eight hours a week) already provide evidence of that.

Machine-in-the-wilderness

Now the remnants of heritage are also evidenced in the naming of roads and lanes -- names that only show up when the zoom is set just right. Cedar Bank Road. Gator Road. Cheapside Lane. Jones Creek Landing. Garden Road. Fire Break Lane. Hogwallow. Beekeeper Road. Hammock Road. Overseers Road. Climbing Buckthorn Trail. Shell Road. Olive Grove Road. Coopersfield Loop.
Now the remnants of heritage are also evidenced in the naming of roads and lanes — names that only show up when the zoom is set just right. Cedar Bank Road. Gator Road. Cheapside Lane. Jones Creek Landing. Garden Road. Fire Break Lane. Hogwallow. Beekeeper Road. Hammock Road. Overseers Road. Climbing Buckthorn Trail. Shell Road. Olive Grove Road. Coopersfield Loop.
End-of-Cannons-Point
Coopersfield Loop is at the end of the road on Cannon’s Point, where, just as a point of information, there are no public utilities, other than electricity, coursing through buried lines ’cause overhead would be unsightly and definitely not in keeping with the contemporary ecology.

Ecology — the political movement that seeks to protect the environment, especially from pollution (by people).

Would it be wrong to suggest that what we have here is a new form of segregation? How else to explain the splurge of investment in the hinterlands, while the City of Brunswick, Georgia, is left to languish in a sea of parking lots that nobody visits?

On the other hand, it does seem the population driven by exclusive interests is limited. They can build all the gated communities they want, but the people won’t come.

“If you build it, they will come.” Lots of wishful thinking going on. Most people don’t want to be locked up. Most don’t even want to settle down.

4454-6-19-14-Beach-Club-Dunes
What’s peculiar about Holland’s picture of the Sea Island Beach Club, other than that it looks like a painting from the Riviera? There aren’t any people in those chairs.
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Photography by James Holland.

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."