McNEIL: Commissioners not listening on airport

Gaye McNeil

Gaye McNeil

Gwinnett commissioners have lost the trust of their constituents. When they took office, they pledged to uphold the Code of Ethics for Gwinnett, which states: "to give to the performance of his/her duties his/her earnest effort and best thought, to seek to find and employ more efficient and economical ways of getting tasks accomplished, make no private promises of any kind upon the duties of office, and uphold these principles, ever conscious that public office is a public trust."

As the privatization/expansion of Briscoe Field is being "considered" by the commissioners, they have forgotten the "public trust and earnest effort and best thought" part of their oath. They continue to lend deaf ears to the neighbors surrounding Briscoe, and even to the mayors of cities close by. In spite of petitions, phone calls, letters, e-mails, editorials and mayoral statements in opposition to the airport's privatization/expansion, the commissioners have chosen instead to apply to the FAA and pursue partnerships for privatization, bringing subsequent expansion one step closer.

We built our home in Gunter Estates 34 years ago. Nestled in a quiet, serene neighborhood only two miles from Briscoe, we fled DeKalb County to avoid the urban decay that came with the expansion of Peachtree DeKalb Airport. We can't believe that we are faced again with the same situation.

Although several issues contributed to the decline of the Skyland Drive/Buford Highway area, the major culprit was the expansion of PDK. This area was once a thriving section of small, successful businesses and closely knit neighborhoods where children were raised in quiet but active communities. However, with the expansion of PDK came a decline, ultimately resulting in vacant homes and boarded up businesses.

We don't want this fate for our area. Those of us who live "close in" to Briscoe already experience our share of noise from private jets, small aircraft and helicopters, not to mention the gridlock on Ga. Highway 316 all day long and the odor of aircraft fuel. The expansion of Briscoe would only exacerbate these problems.

What about our property values? They're already on the decline. Expansion would certainly leave us with little to nothing in equity in our homes. Our commissioners were charged with serving the public interest with our best interests at the forefront of their decisions. Jobs may be created, biotech may evolve in Gwinnett -- but at what cost to its residents?

Gwinnett County appears to be in debt to the FAA for improvements made to the airport to the tune of about $40 million. Our commission would have us believe that the FAA will forgive that debt if the airport is privatized/expanded. Upon further investigation, we've been made aware that as long as Briscoe remains an FAA airport, the debt does not have to be repaid. The privatization/expansion has nothing at all to do with this debt to the FAA. A pertinent question is then: Why are the commissioners pushing so hard for this change in spite of little support from Gwinnett residents?

Although the cost of privatizing/expanding Briscoe Field can be measured in dollars and cents (our tax money), our quiet, peaceful communities and the joy they give us are priceless. We are blessed with a safe, clean environment in which to raise our families. We aren't ready to sacrifice what we (and countless others like us) have worked so hard to establish. How can this be "best" for our county?

We encourage anyone opposing this privatization/expansion of Briscoe Field to attend the Sept. 21 open commission meeting at the Justice/Administration Center at 7 p.m. We'll be there to defend our neighborhoods. Will you?

Gaye McNeil is a retired teacher who taught for more than 30 years. She and her husband Andrew have lived in Lawrenceville since 1975.


momto3 3 years, 4 months ago

Who are you to say that the commissioners are not listening to residents? Perhaps you just don't like that they don't agree with your opinion. They hear you loud and clear, but they also hear various other opinions (this isn't a black and white issue...there is a lot of grey area) on the subject of the possible privatization of Briscoe and they want to gather as much information as possible before committing to anything. You don't have to agree with their decisions, and you don't have to live with their decisions either...feel free to move. Speak your mind and let your opinion on the matter be heard, but don't say that the commissioners are not upholding their oaths just because they don't see things your way. If you want things done your way, I suggest buying a private island and becoming its queen. Otherwise, you need to learn that you are in the minority on this issue and no matter how loud you yell, your opinion is just ONE opinion and everyone else deserves to be heard as well.


WantingFacts 3 years, 4 months ago

Hi MomTo3: I find it interesting that those who support changing Briscoe to a commercial airport keep telling those who oppose it that they can just move. Is that what you plan to do if the commissioners ever propose something with which you don't agree?

How is it that you determined that Gaye is in the minority on this issue? Is your source for this so-called fact the same source that claims that 20,000 to 30,000 jobs will be created by commercializing Briscoe? Is your source the same source that claims that sound insulation in a home is a home improvement and that having a commercial airport next to your home will INCREASE your property value? Is your source the same one that shamefully exploited desperate job seekers by falsely giving them hope that thousands of high paying jobs were available if only the commissioners would vote to allow commercial service at Briscoe?

When has Gaye ever yelled and when has she ever said that no one else deserves to be heard?


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