Cor­nelius Field needs real at­ten­tion

The Standard Journal - - COMMENTARY -

Dear Ed­i­tor: For over 18 months Bill Byrne, along with Ken Suf­fridge have re­quested an ap­point­ment to the Polk County Air­port Board, from two dif­fer­ent Com­mis­sion­ers, Bill even filled out all the paper work … and has heard ab­so­lutely noth­ing from his re­quest.

The Com­mis­sion­ers should re­mem­ber this in the next elec­tion cy­cle. Ken and Bill both are pilots, and have ex­ten­sive back­ground in avi­a­tion. Ken was in­stru­men­tal in ob­tain­ing over 35 mil­lion dol­lars from Congress, the FAA and the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion for build­ing a new 6000’ runway, with an In­stru­ment Land­ing Sys­tem at the Gwin­nett County Air­port when he was a County Com­mis­sioner in Gwin­nett. Bill, as past Chair­man of the Cobb County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers had years of hands on ex­pe­ri­ence with the Cobb County Air­port Au­thor­ity and McCol­lum Field.

The air­port in Polk County, Cor­nelius Field, if man­aged prop­erly, could be­come a ma­jor as­set for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment for the County but in­stead, paint is peel­ing off the build­ings, the grounds are over­grown, the runway needs re­pair and the call for the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers to ad­dress this is­sue has for years, been ig­nored, and ob­vi­ously fallen on deaf ears.

We will ask our State Rep re­sen­ta­tive Trey Kel­ley to help cre­ate an Air­port Au­thor­ity (An air­port au­thor­ity is an in­de­pen­dent en­tity charged with the op­er­a­tion and over­sight of an air­port) to prop­erly man­age the air­port and bring Polk County into a new day.

The Board of Com­mis­sion­ers have turned their backs on a great as­set and op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate new jobs and ex­pand eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for all of Polk County. In ad­di­tion, it would be al­most im­pos­si­ble for the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers to ob­tain funds and/or bud­get enough money to make the nec­es­sary re­pairs and up­grades to the Air­port, be­cause there is a con­sti­tu­tional pro­hi­bi­tion of mul­ti­year con­tracts to fi­nance projects.

On the other hand, Au­thor­i­ties, un­like County and City gov­ern­ments are al­lowed to bor­row money by is­su­ing rev­enue bonds in it own name. Each au­thor­ity’s pow­ers are pre­scribed in the statue cre­at­ing it, which also pro­vides for a gov­ern­ing board, whose mem­bers can be ap­pointed by the com­mis­sion. It is time the Polk County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers un­der­stand their lim­i­ta­tions in deal­ing with air­port fi­nanc­ing, and come along with the rest of us into the 21st Cen­tury, and do the right thing.

Sin­cerely, Bill Byrne and Ken Suf­fridge

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