Grinding up plant debris is nothing new for Jekyll Island, especially with recovery from tropical cyclones over the past few years. But construction debris lingered, waiting in some cases for decades, for a new gig. Now there is one.

“This year we decided to stretch out a little bit and go after some other material we’ve been harboring on the island from past projects — the old toll booth renovation, the old convention center, the old Aquarama,” Noel Jensen, Jekyll Island Authority chief operations officer, said at the JIA board meeting Tuesday.

The JIA partnered with Caterpillar and Yancey Bros., and rented equipment that crushes and grinds construction debris to make it into usable material for future projects. As of Monday, it’s yielded usable material with a street value of $204,300. That’s following an investment of around $50,000.

“So, instead of us when we need small (No.) 57 stones for road base or to replace potholes, $650-750 for a truck to get it here to Jekyll and dump it and place it, we rented the equipment to grind it … and (a) screen divides up the material into three different grades,” Jensen said.

Out of the left side comes clean fill dirt that can be used, out the middle is material that needs another round though the grinder to get resized, and out the right side is the No. 57 stone that can be used for road base. Also, along with reclaiming material, the effort also led to reclaiming some real estate by a shed near the Mosaic museum.

“They just picked up all that valuable square footage to be able to store materials and things of that nature, and to boot we have $200,000 worth of usable materials,” Jensen said.

While the recycling project was like found money, the board authorized a significant amount of spending for capital equipment, water and sewer system work, fire department needs and special projects. In all, it totaled nearly $1.3 million.

There are 20 listed items in the capital equipment and special projects request. Among the most expensive of these is $232,000 to replace the lazy river liner at Summer Waves, along with a new post, ropes and netting, and tile at the waterline for easier cleaning. There is also $212,080 to replace two museum trams, one with seating for 28 and one for seating for 24 or 20 with two wheelchair spots.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center has three items on the list — replacing surgical lights that are beyond repair ($85,000), replacing the turtle food freezer ($18,000) and replacing the old surgical camera system ($7,700).

The water and sewer system projects are, for the most part, geared to replacing irreparable or obsolete equipment. There are $10,000 budgeted for a dump trailer that will be used to haul sludge and grit to the Broadhurst landfill, which would save JIA an estimated $4,000-$5,000 in hauling fees annually.

For the fire department, $59,000 is to go toward repairs and equipment to outfit the donated Glynn County fire engine. Another $82,000 is more generally public safety focused, as it would replace radios in all vehicles, at the Georgia State Patrol dispatch and at the fire department. Included is a device to go to the convention center that would enable the radio signal throughout the building. According to JIA’s documentation, the current radios aren’t able to transmit and receive from GSP and Glynn County, which the new ones will.

After the board approved the spending, JIA board Secretary/Treasurer Bill Gross said, “I’d like to point out that literally everything on this list is a reinvestment in Jekyll Island.”

Along the northeast side of the island, the rock revetment project is closing in on its completion.

“It has been a constant army of dump trucks on Jekyll Island — (JIA Conservation Director) Ben Carswell tells me there’s been over 6,000 dump trucks to date, bringing sand,” said JIA Executive Director Jones Hooks. “And, the sand delivery is almost complete. So, that part has moved along pretty nicely — it’s an amazing project. We met with (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) last week — and (the Georgia Emergency Management Agency) — to go over the details with them.”

Hooks noted earlier concerns from FEMA that the sand involved was more beach renourishment and less shoreline protection, which would not be eligible for funding, but JIA is working with the agency to show the sand involved isn’t beach-quality and is meant to work in concert with the rocks. FEMA did, however, agree to help fund the rock portion of the project for $1.9 million.

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