The Battle of the Beaches: The Jekyll Island Redevelopment Debate

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e-Review of Tourism Research (eRTR)


Abstract: The Jekyll Island Redevelopment Project epitomizes the challenge and utility of citizen engagement in the management of public resources. As a state-owned “park” managed by the Jekyll Island Authority (JIA), legislation mandates that 65% of the island remain undeveloped; the remaining 35% may be developed to provide residential and recreational amenities. By 2000, the deteriorating condition of many amenities resulted in decreasing visitation which threatened the JIA’s ability to operate on a self-sustaining basis. The JIA accepted a proposal from a private sector partner outlining development that was perceived contrary to the Authority’s preservation mandate. In response, citizens created a grassroots movement to stop development. This paper examines how that process garnered input which resulted in a dramatic revision of a government body’s proposal for the redevelopment of a common resource.