BOC resolves not to turn airport into next Hartsfield

WINDER - The Northeast Georgia Regional Airport will not become a second Hartsfield, Barrow County's Board of Commissioners resolved in Tuesday's meeting. They would, however, like the airport to find a route to profitability.

The airport, originally built to accommodate Sen. Richard B. Russell's flights, has never made a profit, said District 4 Commissioner Billy Parks, former airport authority member. The airport would be self-sustaining, he said, if not for employees' salaries, which are paid from a county fund.

The board has no interest in seeing the airport serve high-volume passenger travel, according to the resolution signed Tuesday. That leaves commercial ventures, said District 4 Commissioner Isaiah Berry.

"I don't care what they do as long as it makes money," Berry said. "It can develop into a commercial airport and hangar airplanes. I know that's not what residents want to hear, but they're beating a dead horse. We need to move on and take some of the burden off the taxpayers."

A better use of the airport's surrounding acreage would be as a water source, said Donna Frost.

"Millions of dollars will be spent to install this runway expansion, reroute (Ga.) Highway 82 and to run sewer and water to the airport," Frost said. "Beech Creek flows across the Segars' property. Let's re-evaluate this property as a water source."

David Brock, from St. Ives subdivision bordering the airport, called the resolution "little more than a political smoke screen."

"There is little specific detail regarding the long-term vision for the airport and surrounding communities," Brock said. "It would be nice to see a resolution regarding conflicts of interest for members of the BOC and airport authority, and fully disclose all relationships between these members and those who stand to benefit the most from current and future expansion."