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Jekyll musing

JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga. - Most afternoons here are punctuated by booming thunderstorms that roll in from the south and give way to postcards of pink and purple sunsets.

The seafood is fresh. So is the air.

And it only takes a couple of hours to recharge your batteries.

Sitting on the front porch of 4 Barron Lane with my computer playing songs by the Eli Young Band, Corey Smith and others, I can't think of many other places I'd rather be.

I'm less than 50 yards off the main strip of Jekyll Island, but there's no booming bass to shake the windows of the house, no revving motors and modified mufflers to make my ears bleed.

Instead, there's plenty of one of my favorite island assets: solitude.

For decades, the island has been a family-friendly place, with a couple of restaurants, a handful of hotels, a few shops and golf courses to balance the 600 or so homes spread across the island. It is steeped in history, with restored homes of millionaires past dotting one side, and vast beaches spreads across the other. There are miles of bike trails, plenty of places to fish and more than enough places to just sit a spell.

But behind the quiet faacade, the storm clouds of change are gathering - fueled by Georgia's Governor and others. Gov. Perdue and cronies see green on the island. And it has nothing to do with the acres of pristine wilderness and marshland.

They say dwindling tourism numbers should be an impetus to revitalize the island. (According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, vehicle visits dropped by 2,000 to 462,313 in a recent fiscal year, and hotel occupancy is down by 12 percent over the last five years.)

State law dictates that only 35 percent of the island can be developed. But state law - like the whims of politicians - is subject to change.

The problem is this: Many state elected officials - including the good governor himself, apparently - don't understand (or in some cases, care) that there are some things done for the good of our residents. Not everything has to be done to make money or pacify drooling developers.

Now, I'm not saying Jekyll is perfect. Certainly, any tourist destination that hasn't had a new hotel in three decades is a little behind the times. (Which is why - for the record - I was thrilled to see a $90 million resort planned to replace an existing dilapidated structure.)

I'm just asking (praying, actually) for a little moderation. There's a fine line (and in this case only a couple of miles) between a laid-back casual community and a crowded, over-priced, hectic hot-spot - just ask anyone who's been to St. Simons over the last decade.

But then again, what do I know?

My judgment is probably clouded by salty air.

Web posted on Thursday, July 19, 2007

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