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Group spreads word on expansion

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips<br> Left Gaye McNeil hands fliers to passing motorists in downtown Lawrenceville on Saturday. McNeil is one of about 20 volunteers that came out to collect money and pass out flyers to help stop the airport expansion at Briscoe Field.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Left Gaye McNeil hands fliers to passing motorists in downtown Lawrenceville on Saturday. McNeil is one of about 20 volunteers that came out to collect money and pass out flyers to help stop the airport expansion at Briscoe Field.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Several Gwinnett County residents opposed to the expansion of Briscoe Field visited downtown Lawrenceville on Saturday to raise awareness about and money for their cause.

Armed with signs, fliers and buckets for donated change, nearly a dozen people stood near the busy intersection of Crogan and Clayton streets. When vehicles stopped at traffic lights, members of the crew approached the motorists.

"We're handing out information to everyone to give some knowledge about what the Gwinnett County people are planning to do," Lawrenceville resident Mark Woolridge said. "We want to make sure all the citizens are informed."

Saturday's educational mission was organized by Citizens for a Better Gwinnett, an organization established to oppose the expansion of Briscoe Field. Woolridge said all of the money collected Saturday would be used to help pay for more yard signs and fliers.

Earlier this summer, Gwinnett County received preliminary approval to move forward with a proposal to privatize the local airport. The Federal Aviation Administration accepted a preapplication for Briscoe Field to be included in a pilot program to pursue privatization without having to pay back federal grants. Gwinnett now has the fourth of the five reserved slots, although the move does not guarantee the airport will be leased or sold.

In August, Gwinnett County accepted qualifications from three companies interested in taking over Briscoe Field.

Those opposed to the airport expansion cite several concerns: Increased noise, more air pollution, additional traffic in an already congested area.

Dacula resident James Childers said one of his main concerns is how the change would affect property values.

"I think our property values are just going to go down," he said.

Citizens for a Better Gwinnett want the public to have a say in the process, both Childers and Woolridge said.

"We're not here to stop development," Woolridge said. "We want smart development and input from our residents."