Editor's note: Dist. 2 Board of Commissioner Lynette Howard provides important details to help understand the current issue of privatizing Gwinnett's Briscoe Field. Learn what is fact and what is fiction about this current hot-button issue that has divided both politicians and citizens in our county.
I want to give people a few of the facts.
1. Briscoe Airport belongs to Gwinnett County and is not up for sale.
2. Any fees collected from the operation of airport must be use exclusively for the airport under current law.
3. Privatization would potentially allow the county to collect fees from the airport.
4. Briscoe has a runway that is 6,000 feet long. There may be safety reasons for extending the runway 500 feet. This is an addition of 8 percent. This has nothing to do with privatization.
5. The county has conducted no studies to evaluate the financial impact of privatization.
6. Briscoe is a General Aviation airport which is subsidized by federal grants. General aviation must remain at our airport without negative impact.
7. The road traffic to and around Briscoe is horrendous. Highway 316 and the crossroads must be redesigned to move people efficiently off the highway.
8. Signage must be upgraded at and around the airport. This will prevent unnecessary trips and decrease traffic. It will also brand the airport as a Gwinnett asset.
9. The grounds of the airport need to be improved. When the jail site across the street is more appealing, there is a problem that needs to be corrected.
10. Privatization is an option to change the business structure of our airport. This is separate from the introduction of commercialization.
11. If privatization occurs, there are means to restrict the parameters of how it operates.
12. Just because someone says 737 does not mean 737s will be allowed.
I have had many e-mails and phone calls from all over the county about our airport. For every person that is against, there are more than two for. People want jobs to come back to Gwinnett, they want the roads to improve and they want our airport to look and function better.
When the Request for Proposals (RFPs) come back, we can then start the evaluation of data.
I promised to work from fact and that is how I will evaluate the future of our airport. I appreciate all the advice, but this is too important not to base my decision on fact. I am a scientist who works in the realm of reproducible results. I also analyze the best and the worst practices to obtain the most ideal situation.
I have sought out experts to help me understand the terms and dynamics of our airport. I have studied, read, taken notes and asked questions. I will find my answers and make the best decision only after I am satisfied that we have the best solution for all parties. The parties are homeowners, business owners, general aviation pilots, Gwinnett citizens, the board of commissioners and me. I must live with my decision that I was elected to make.
Throughout my life there have been situations that seemed to have no solution for the parties involved. Every single time, when the problems were identified, solutions could be effectively found.
I don’t know how this will play out, but only together with correct data, can we make our community better.