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LETTER: 'Privatization' needs a definition

While I generally agree with the message of J.K. Murphy’s column (“We need facts before airport decision,” May 8, 10A), there are two issues that need amplification. You correctly note that privatization and commercial flights are two different issues. The county can have one and not the other.

My first disagreement is, perhaps, more with the county than with Murphy. “Privatization” — the term — is being used but not defined. I think that selling the airport land to any commercial operator would be a horrendous mistake. Those several hundred acres are a major and huge asset owned by the county, and getting rid of a permanent asset for a temporary input of cash seems terribly shortsighted.

I don’t have an issue with the county letting some group manage and improve the airport facility, but with strong performance bonding and large penalties for failing to live up to them. Gwinnett has a history of business-friendly boondoggles, and I can only hope that we might have learned from the past. However, absent from the discussion that I have seen is a definition of what “privatization” means. Hopefully it does not mean “selling.”

My second issue is how the question is being framed by the NIMBY crowd. Yes, people who live near the airport will be affected more than people who live in Norcross or Duluth. But again, the airport is a county asset, not a Lawrenceville asset or a Dacula asset. Again, the county has a history of heeding the people who whine the most, counter to the needs of Gwinnett as a whole.

I hope that the commissioners look at the big picture, and that the highly local objections of residents nearby are balanced with the greater interests of those of us who live in other sections of the county.

Gwinnett has an opportunity to do something right — study the issue and make a considered and deliberate decision. But it needs to do so with clarity. A cacophony of emotional misstatements doesn’t help achieve that clarity.

— Ted Koppel, Hoschton