Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Federal Agency Hears the Bad Side; Most of the 20 Comments So Far Say the Park Service Can't Handle Cumberland

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Federal Agency Hears the Bad Side; Most of the 20 Comments So Far Say the Park Service Can't Handle Cumberland

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

ST. MARYS - A majority of respondents to a National Park Service survey say the agency is incapable of managing seven tracts at Cumberland Island National Seashore that must be vacated next year.

And some made their points with insults, ranging from "idiots" to "lying cowards.''

Regardless of their content, Bill Reynolds, a Park Service spokesman at the regional office in Atlanta, said all comments will be considered. He said the small number of comments received - just 20 so far - may not reflect overwhelming sentiment once the public comment period ends Jan. 31. Those comments were made during meetings in Atlanta and St. Marys.

The Park Service is seeking public input on what it should do with the tracts once residents leave as required in agreements that helped establish the national seashore in 1972.

Critics said the Park Service has allowed structures to fall into a state of disrepair and they expressed doubt structures will be preserved once residents move from them.

"You spent 40 years screwing over the visitors," said Blake Cook, of Quincy.

Cook suggested leasing The Grange, a house in the Dungeness Historic District, back to the Carnegie family, and extending life estates to other residents whose agreements expire next year. The so-called life estates are not all equal. Some rights expired upon the holder's death while other expired on agreed-upon dates.

Bruce Lesieur, of Albany, said the Park Service has "totally disrespected the Carnegie family," which helped save the island from development in the late 1960s.

"I want you to commit to a historic lease of The Grange because past history dictates that you idiots will let it fall down anyway," Lesieur wrote.

He expressed support for allowing disabled visitors to stay at a residence where a court order has stopped work on property leased by retired doctor Ben Jenkins. Jenkins, whose retained rights will expire in October, was building a house adjacent to his own. Lesieur didn't say whether he thought Jenkins should be allowed to stay.

Valerie Brumbelow, wife of former Cumberland Island superintendent Jerre Brumbelow, had some of the harshest criticism. …

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