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Sunday, December 6, 2009 - 3:55am

$175 Million Jekyll Island Project Starts

After two years of sometimes intense political debates, Governor Sonny Perdue and Jekyll Island officials are to break ground Monday on an revitalization project for the state-owned island.

And with that, the much debated $170 million renovation of outdated-looking facilities on Jekyll Island will be underway.

The project's first phase is a beach-front park.

The park wasn't in original plans state officials laid out in 2007.

But much changed from the original plans, and much to the favor of critics, who worried the project would overrun the island with development.

The park ensures convenient beach access to the driving public and is scheduled to be open by next summer.

Construction is set to begin in January on a temporary convention center while construction on the main convention center and island village is set to begin in June.

State officials say, the revitalization is needed to keep visitors coming to the island so it can remain a self-sufficient operation.

The work is welcome news to construction firms.

In a sign of how much the recession has made work more competitive, island officials said the bid for the first phase park came in 20% under budget.

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