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LETTERS: Commerical flights could be boon for county

With even more doom and gloom in the news about the nation's economic woes, we need the Gwinnett County commissioners to move forward with the privatization of Lawrenceville's Briscoe Field. Gwinnett has a golden opportunity to turn our economy around and start filling up these empty houses and businesses that plague Gwinnett's economy and landscape.

Gwinnett County officials are telling us that Gwinnett is 30 million dollars short in their 2012 budget and that they are struggling to keep basic functions of the government going like the courts system and even our libraries. Then we all read where the commissioners are spending yet another 1.1 million dollars to study a public rail system along Interstate 85. This surprises me since our Gwinnett County public bus system is barely used and most buses are near empty.

This all ties into why we should go full steam ahead to bring commercial flights into Gwinnett County and turn this mess around. The former Gwinnett County commissioners spent 65 million dollars on the Gwinnett Braves stadium without any million-dollar studies or public meetings. They basically bankrupted our county to make Commissioner Bert Nasuti's dream of designing a baseball field come true. The airport can change all of this.

Every Gwinnett County business owner and public safety member should be behind this rare opportunity to bring limited commercial flights into our struggling county. If this happens, the hundreds of millions of dollars generated by commercial flights at Briscoe and the increased tax revenues could mean lower property taxes, the ability to keep our courts open and actually give our police and firefighters a pay raise. The public bus system and a public rail could actually benefit the airport's expansion. The current Gwinnett County commissioners have a duty to make the right decision that will fix Gwinnett's economy and move our county forward.

-- Bonnie Bradley

Lawrenceville

Comments

R 2 years, 7 months ago

Bonnie Bradley, “This all ties into why we should go full steam ahead to bring commercial flights into Gwinnett County and turn this mess around.”

WHOA there partner, you must not have been at the 11AM meeting with the consulting firm where they described in detail just how unstable that commercial venture may really be revenue wise. A coupled, simultaneous conversion to privatization and the addition of commercial passenger traffic from a General Aviation Airfield has never been done before. Some believe being first may be a good thing and perhaps it could be. After all, Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) were brand new at the time too and solved everyone’s problem on Wall Street, till they blew up - contributing to our current financial mess. Before that time, we never had “toxic assets“that didn’t involve physical chemical spills or 55 gallon drums on a plot of land. However, the review of a private operator of Briscoe as a General Aviation Airfield vs. the county would be a valid and realistic project. If privatization proves to be viable (and that’s a big IF in this economy - even for MetLife) it would need to implemented and run for 10 to 15 years to prove itself, and perhaps raise some revenue for something else down the line. The inclusion of commercial passenger traffic is a distant dream for a relatively small sect because of Federal involvement - it would be YEARS away, even if you started full tilt TOMMOROW.
Facts are funny things, unfortunately just because they are presented doesn’t mean the decision makers will heed the wisdom. The consultants indicated that in order to succeed, the entities that would consider submitting a bid would look toward the political landscape before they even entertain the expense of the bid process and they would be reviewing the community for unity on the subject. ( A close 3/2 hard fought vote wouldn’t look good) Second, the consultants recommended that the community be involved in the RFQ formation BEFORE its actual formal release into the market place. ( there's that unity again) The plus side – this is one county vendor that won’t be in a lawsuit anytime soon, too many independent witnesses were present when they made the presentation. The best advice came at 12:55 PM Decouple privatization from commercial passenger traffic.

Of course, if your “sarcastic button” were actually switched on in your original text, it worked and was an absolute riot - worthy of Jon Stewart.

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WantingFacts 2 years, 6 months ago

Bonnie:

If bringing commercial service to Briscoe would cure all of the economic problems in Gwinnett, that would be great. The facts just don't support that supposition. Please don't forget that the same people who are pushing commercial service at Briscoe are the same ones who pushed the Braves Stadium. When glossing over the fact that the Stadium costs rose $19 million after construction was already underway, Gwinnett Visitors & Conventions Bureau Board Chairman Richard Tucker said, "You adjust to it and you do it. In this case, they are public funds, so we are even more careful." Bert Nasuti said, "In the long-term, it's going to bring more money to Gwinnett County then it's ever going to cost." They promised, "There's going to be a highly designed mixed-use development that will surround the stadium. Those kinds of things will bring in a lot of revenue to the county." (Have you seen the kudzu covered empty lots surrounding the stadium?)

When things did not go as promised, taxpayers were told, "The stadium is an asset to the community. It was meant to add to the quality of life more than to generate income for the county." How many people in Gwinnett County, believe that 737s at Briscoe will "add to the quality of life" in our county?

What facts support the claims that 20,000 to 30,000 jobs will be created at Briscoe? How well did privatizing Collins Hill Golf Course work out for Gwinnett taxpayers? How well did the trash plan work out that resulted in multi-million dollar lawsuits? Remember the claims that were made for the Cash for Clunkers program? Remember all of the jobs that were supposed to be "saved or created" by the federal stimulus plan? What about the auto bailouts and the bank bailouts? Does your wallet feel better because of those programs? If adding a commercial airport was the answer to economic woes, every community in the country would build one. When the economy was booming, why did every airport that entered into this program since 1997 fail? Do you believe that in this economy, suddenly Gwinnett County will be able to do what no one else could do?

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Gwinnett County cannot afford any more fiscal insanity.

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jack 2 years, 6 months ago

Bonnie presents a compelling argument for the commercialization of Briscoe. By listing the recent boondoggles of the ballpark, mass transit, etc., she is able to juxtapose the magnificent munificence to be provided by airport expansion. That there are no facts to support her position should be disregarded. Afterall, I, too, heard someone somewhere say that commercialization would bring in untold millions of dollars and employ thousands upon thousands of people. It sounds so good, it must be true, so I believe it.

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JimmyOrr 2 years, 6 months ago

Bonnie, the privatization of Gwinnett County Airport Briscoe Field with an option to provide commercial airline service would provide the same economic boon that the Braves stadium, the cash for clunkers program. and the stimulus program have provided. Privatization of Gwinnett County Airport Briscoe Field for any purpose other than operating the facility for general aviation is a no brainer.

James H. (Jimmy) Orr, Jr. Gwinnett County

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JRegan 2 years, 6 months ago

Want to see the future of Briscoe Field if expansion occurs? Check out this video from NBC news about a Missouri community that developed an airport in 1997 to stimulate the economy, attract thousands of jobs, and increase tax revenue it is very enlightening.

link text

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JRegan 2 years, 6 months ago

Despite two studies, warnings from consultants, and two examples of failed airports proponents of Briscoe Field expansion continue to attempt to mislead and manipulate Gwinnett citizens.

The viability of Briscoe Field as a regional airport was examined in both the City of Atlanta – Hartsfield and the Gwinnett BOC – IMG studies. These two reports both cast serious doubts on the viability of converting Briscoe Field from a general aviation airport to a regional airport. Concerns included the cost (up to $2.2 Billion), environmental, airspace management, expansion limitations (due to acreage), and the instability of the airline industry. In addition C4BG has concerns about traffic congestion, Gwinnett government guaranty of construction bonds, and the overall impact on our quality of life.

MidAmerica Airport, located 30 miles from St Louis International Airport, opened for schedule passenger service in 1997. At that time politicians said they were investing $320 Million of taxpayer funds in the community’s future. Today everyone realizes they wasted $320 Million and perhaps gambled the community’s future away. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, watch the video and decide for yourself how you would like Gwinnett to proceed. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19934551/

Branson MO Airport completed construction in 2009, expecting 1.5 million passengers per year. The county government backed construction of the privately owned airport with $115 Million in taxpayer development bonds. Now the largest private investor, CitiGroup, is threatening foreclosure as the airport continues to operate under a forbearance agreement. Foreclosure or bankruptcy seems highly likely since the private operator has had little success expanding the number of airlines servicing the airport. The airport serviced 92,000 passengers in 2010, far fewer that the 1.5 million forecast when the airport was proposed.

Aside from these two examples, we have to look at the stability of the airline industry. Over the past five years airlines have been consolidating through mergers (Delta/Northwest, Southwest/Airtran), regional airlines (ATA, Eos, Sun Country, Aloha) have ceased operations, the remaining nine airlines have grounded smaller regional jets, and continue to reduce the number of flights operated. Combine this with the fact that airlines don’t sign long-term contracts to operate out of airports, other than their major hubs.

When considering all these facts most reasonable people conclude expanding Briscoe Field is too great a risk for our community and would never deliver the results projected by proponents.

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R 2 years, 6 months ago

Just think how things would have turned out if this "conversion" would have occurred as the Bannister Board envisioned PRIOR to the Southwest merger. "Cancellation" comes to mind. Sometimes "Sorry really is the hardest word".

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