The Jekyll Island Authority, in partnership with the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, is seeking public input on an update to the island’s master plan.
An online survey, available through June 30, aims to target all who are familiar with the island, including visitors, residents and businesses.
Carl Vinson Institute staff hosted a public input session Wednesday at the Jekyll Island Convention Center to ask a variety of questions about what planning issues JIA should prioritize over the next five years. The meeting was attended by island residents.
“The master plan really provides that framework for the future, and it helps reflect the priorities and guide the work, in this case, of the Jekyll Island Authority,” said Leigh Elkins, senior public service associate with the institute. “As we update this plan, we’re going to be using the same five categories that we used in the 2014 plan.”
The categories are economic sustainability, historic and cultural resources, transportation infrastructure and municipal services, natural resources and recreation.
The master plan update process began in February when institute staff started reviewing JIA’s recent accomplishments and reviewing the 2014 plan.
Now, staff are in the process of seeking input through a variety of methods, including from a stakeholder committee, through the online survey and through interviews with JIA Board members.
“The next step in this process is going to be to review all the input,” Elkins said. “We have it coming from a lot of different ways. We have a lot to review.”
Approximately 6,000 survey responses have been sent online to date.
“We’ll review that input, and then we’ll develop a draft plan,” Elkins said.
The authority’s board will receive a draft version of the plan in September, she said. A public hearing will be held in October, and the final plan should be presented to JIA in December.
During the in-person session, participants were asked what they considered to be some of JIA’s accomplishments over the past five years. Updates to the tennis court, the hiring of a conservation director and improvements to Great Dunes Park, beach accesses, bike paths and crossovers were among the answers.
Asked what the greatest challenges of the next five years will likely be, attendees focused significant attention on island capacity issues. Over-development and traffic concerns were mentioned repeatedly.
Opportunities for the next five years, many said, include preserving the island’s environment, revitalizing the amphitheater and adding a dog park and pickleball court.
Several input session attendees also expressed their desire to see more opportunities for island residents to be involved in JIA’s governance processes, possibly by increasing the number of town hall events or appointing an island resident to the board.
The public input survey is available online at jekyllisland.com/survey.