Adding 12 acres to the Jekyll Island Campground is no small doing. The Jekyll Island Authority board reviewed Tuesday an amendment to its master plan and began taking concrete steps toward expansion after years of talk. The plans have already been in the works for six years and received the OK from former Gov. Nathan Deal in 2014.

“As a matter of fact, in the 1996 master plan, there was discussion and some engineering studies that were looked at as far as expansion of the campground,” JIA Executive Director Jones Hooks said.

The expansion includes an area of land more or less directly east and adjoining the present campground, which, once integrated into the whole, will put the campground at around 36.7 acres total.

According to documentation on the necessity of the expansion, “With occupancy rates averaging better than 80 percent and future demand, (these factors) have proven an expansion of the campground is beyond necessary and would offer more opportunities for Georgians and others to enjoy Jekyll Island.

“Earlier in 2019, the JIA engaged a consulting team to review expansion options which have existed prior to 2010. A final master plan has been completed for the 12-acre expansion equaling 54 camp sites and facility improvements that would result in a better overall customer experience and greater return on overall investment than the marginal year-over-year revenues from the existing camping facility.”

Hooks said that over the years, the size of camping rigs has expanded, and with the wooded nature of the campground, some sites aren’t able to well accommodate larger camping rigs.

“We’re at the beginning of a process that would require, and this map shows the expansion, of 12 acres of the campground, and those acres even though they were classified as undeveloped, they were recognized in this master plan as part of developed acreage,” Hooks said.

A public hearing on the plan is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at the convention center.

On the public safety front, the JIA accepted a grant from Georgia-Pacific that will go toward a portable fire pump that makes it easier to obtain water for fire suppression without having to be near a hydrant, a feature helpful for emergencies at places like marinas and off-road, wooded areas.

“Georgia-Pacific has a bucket brigade program — it’s been around since 2006 and since then it’s given nearly $2 million in grants to rural municipalities and local fire brigades within a 30-mile radius of a Georgia-Pacific plant,” JIA Chief Operations Officer Noel Jensen said. “This year, Dennis Gailey, our director of public safety, applied for a grant and we were just notified earlier this month that a $4,000 grant was awarded to the Jekyll Island Authority….”

For people in the market for new license plates, JIA Senior Director of Marketing Kate Harris announced the redesigned Georgia Sea Turtle Center plates are out and ready to go.

“I am happy to announce that Georgia now has a new specialty tag, and our team worked on the design for this — I have one here and ready to use so you can take a look,” Harris said. “This is now available at tag offices around Georgia and you will see it displayed here on Jekyll Island. The funding will benefit the Sea Turtle Center, and we think the design is very engaging.”

The design is a near- photo quality image of a sea turtle that appears to be looking up and out of a GSTC rehabilitation tank.

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