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Gwinnett airport task force searches for mission

LAWRENCEVILLE — Members of a citizens task force considering the future of Gwinnett’s Briscoe Field struggled Tuesday to define their mission.

“I think there is some confusion on what our actual responsibilities are,” said Tip Cape, a developer elected as the board’s chairman, who began the group’s second meeting by attempting to formulate a consensus. “It’s hard to get somewhere when you don’t know where you are going.”

Members agreed that there are four options for the 30-year-old general aviation field: The county could continue to operate it as a general aviation field, the county could operate it as a commercial field, it could be privatized as general aviation, or it could be privatized as commercial.

But which questions are tackled first and how to fulfill the task given by commissioners — to find the best use of the county asset — remained unclear.

It is made all the more difficult, members said, because the board has no resources for its own environmental or economic studies, although they can request funds from commissioners.

“I really find it hard to give any recommendation without any data or studies or projections of how much money it could generate,” Cape said. “I’m a business man, and if it costs X and you generate Y, then it makes sense.”

“It’s a rather overwhelming task,” member Gary Custar said, adding that the February due date makes it even more difficult.

Since three companies filed qualifications earlier this year to be considered for the privitazation, members talked about gathering information and studies that others have conducted to help. A subcommittee was named to interview the companies, although the qualifications have been rejected as part of a recent decision to begin the process anew.

Next week, board members are expected to bring some proposed mission statements to their next session.

Also at that meeting, members are expected to talk via teleconference to consultants from Infrastructure Management Group, who have helped the county in the privatization process.

The meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Gwinnett Department of Transportation’s central facility at 620 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville.