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Companies come out to find out about Gwinnett airport privatization bids

LAWRENCEVILLE -- At least two companies are interested in bidding to take over Gwinnett's Briscoe Field.

Representatives from Propeller Airports and Saker Aviation, along with other consulting firms, attending a pre-bid conference Thursday involving the potential privatization of the county airport.

Brett Smith, of Propeller said the company is still interested in bringing commercial passenger service to the small airfield -- a proposal that has fueled debate for three years. But just because the county has finally reached the proposal stage, he said, does not bring him relief.

"I think there's a lot of obstacles yet to come, and I don't think an issuance of the (request for proposals), by any means, means it will happen," Smith said, adding that the company is not interested in taking over operations if the airport remains a general aviation facility.

Ronald Ricciardi, president and CEO of Saker Aviation, came in from Pennsylvania for the pre-bid conference.

Ricciardi said he had not followed the debate about the potential expansion to the airport and had not completed research to determine what he might propose in a bid.

His company manages both commercial and general aviation airports in New York and Kansas.

"I'll be something we'll look at, and we'll see if it bears support from an economic standpoint," he said of passenger service, adding that the community support and facilities will also factor in.

The pre-bid conference went quickly with few questions asked of the technical aspects of the proposal process or procedures.

Potential bidders have until Monday to submit questions, and proposals are due Feb. 8.

Peggy Sisca knew the conference was likely to be technical and would not include comments from the public, but she and husband Tony still came to watch.

"I didn't expect a whole lot to happen. I just wanted to be here in case," Sisca said.

The couple have been worried about the proposed commercial flights for years.

"I'm concerned from a personal aspect. Come the day we want to sell our home, we aren't sure we could get anyone to buy it," she said, adding that she has gathered 100 signatures in the past month for a petition at www.change.org/petitions/dont-land-in-my-back-yard.

Another concerned citizen, Larry Yates, has watched as a citizens group met to discuss the airport's future, and he implored commissioners to allow the group to continue after a surprise split decision to disband last month.

On Thursday, he continued his watch at the pre-bid conference.

"A lot of this can come up and slip out pretty quick," he said. "I want to keep everybody honest."

Like Yates, Smith said he wished the study committee could have continued their conversations.

"I concur with what the citizens committee's findings were," Smith said of the recommendation to pursue customs at the airport, study the environmental and economic impact of commercial passenger service and to not pursue privatization as a general aviation facility. "It's unfortunate we aren't able to continue dealing with them because I believe the citizens committee has an important part in all this."

Comments

concernedtaxpayer 2 years, 11 months ago

Apparently the citizens committee were primarily cronies of the high-power commissioners. Let's have a real citizen committe set up of many Gwinnett taxpayers who really should have the power and stop this insane nonsense. This can be done on our own without these officials setting it up. It's called OPPOSITION!.

Talk about a vacant county! The airport would put more people out of their homes due to environmental issues, which is already pretty siginificant within 40 miles around the area. Isn't Gwinnett one of the most air-polluted counties in the Country? These large planes already land in my back yard, shine their lights through my windows and dump bad fumes, fuel and waste as they lower to land. Truly unhealthy and makes the area very dirty (land, roadways, buildings,and even kills vegetation and trees).

How do these people show their faces each day? Who or what is their priority? Oh, I forgot! It's their purse and bragging rights! What do you say Gwinnett? Get on board with the petition and let's make a huge presence known at every meeting, bid, etc. If you're in a city make sure the leaders of that city understand that work for you also with the rejection of this request. We could go national if we need to!

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JimmyOrr 2 years, 11 months ago

Allow me to "paint a portriat" on the airport issue as I see it. The "portriat" is my personal opinion and as such, is pure speculation on my part. First comes RFQ's. DONE! Next comes RFP's. Due February 8, 2012. Next comes a Pre-Bid Conference. DONE! Next comes receipt of the RFP's on February 8, 2012, in which the sucessful bidder will be announced pending further review. Next comes a review by county staff of the RFP's submitted. After the numbers are "churned" by county staff on the RFP's submitted, the successful bidder's RFP moves forward. Next comes a recommendation by the county staff to the BOC. I project county staff's recommendation will be to approve. Next comes the BOC 10 AM Work Session. I project that the BOC will follow county staff's recommendation by a 3 - 2 vote. Award of the RFP could come via Consent Agenda during the morning work session or move forward to the BOC 2 PM Business Session Agenda whuch after discussion, will pass by a 3 - 2 vote. Next comes privatization of Gwinnett County Airport Briscoe Field with an option, which if exercised, will see the inclusion of commercial airline service.

James H. (Jimmy) Orr, Jr.

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R 2 years, 11 months ago

Kinda sounds like a warmup for the I-85 study ...

Hold on to your lug nuts boys, It's time for an overhaul!

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