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Gwinnett commissioners to meet with airport consultant Tuesday

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A month after a confrontation over moving forward on Gwinnett's process to study privatizing its airport, commissioners are scheduled to meet publicly with consultants.

A 90-minute briefing and Q&A will follow Tuesday's 10 a.m. work session.

"I think everybody recognizes there is a good bit of information to cover," Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. "We need to focus on getting the questions from commissioners answered."

The meeting with IMG, a company chosen because of its expertise in airport operations to help guide the privatization considerations, comes after more than a year of discord on the issue.

Privatization, officials have said, could mean keeping Lawrenceville's Briscoe Field a general aviation airport full of flight schools and small aircraft or it could open the airport to commercial jets.

The process was placed on hold until after recent elections, but three of the five commissioners voted to move forward with seeking proposals earlier this year. Last month, Nash said the three directed county staff to move forward again, choosing one of four options given in an IMG report. A formal vote was later taken.

Commissioner Lynette Howard, who voted to move forward and called for the meeting, said she still has a number of questions about the feasibility of the proposals.

"I want to find out more about the facts behind it so I can make a good decision. We need to have a credible source of information," Howard said, adding that she wanted the group's take on putting together an advisory board of residents as well as the financial possibilities in the different options.

"After they hear what commissioners say on Tuesday, (IMG) will know how to finish up," a request for proposals, she said. "The decision has been made but there is fine-tuning to it."

Officials had hoped to arrange the meeting for last week but schedules did not allow that. With all five board members expected to attend, the meeting will be open to the public. It is scheduled to be held in the commission conference room on the second floor of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, but if the crowd is to large it could be moved, Nash said.