LAWRENCEVILLE — After a number of hang-ups, county officials called Thursday for proposals to privatize Briscoe Field.
The Gwinnett County Airport has been the center of debate for more than a year because of at least one company’s desire to add passenger service at the Lawrenceville field.
But based on a consultant’s recommendation, Thursday’s request for proposals calls for plans to take over the airport in its current general aviation state, but allowing for a long-term vision that would allow commercial flights.
The 75-page document is available at gwinnettcounty.com.
A pre-bid conference for companies to ask questions is set for Jan. 5, and bids are due Feb. 8.
The news was a blow to local residents concerned about the noise and traffic that could come with an airport expansion and a blessing to those hoping passenger service could bring economic success.
“We’re just disappointed that the county went forward with the (request for proposals),” said Rick Schneider of Citizens for Better Gwinnett.
Schneider said his group was hoping officials would wait until a citizens committee currently discussing the future of Briscoe Field to make its recommendation.
“I don’t understand what’s the rush on this project. What’s the hurry?” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
Last year, three companies submitted qualifications for the proposed private partnership, one of which openly discussed commercialization. Commissioners voted to begin the process anew a few months ago, allowing any interested company to submit proposals.
Paula Hastings, a Lawrenceville woman who favors studying the commercial option, said it was about time the request for proposals was issued.
“Fly Gwinnett Forward is committed to exploring the facts as it relates to privatization, scheduled service, and it’s potential,” Hastings said, submitting a statement for the pro-commercialization group. “From these facts, we believe that all citizens in Gwinnett can benefit from this opportunity and we are excited and encouraged that the RFP has been released so we may all learn more regarding those facts. We applaud the commissioners who saw the need to move forward.”
Attempts to reach Chairwoman Charlotte Nash about the formal request were not successful.