Paulding County airport

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The plan for new commercial airline service at a small Paulding County airport has angered some residents who feel officials schemed behind their backs with a company that plans to expand the facility. The chief of Propeller Investments writes that the new Silver Comet Field will offer only limited airline service that will boost country revenues and provide an alternative to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for travelers in North Georgia.

Paulding officials broke public trust

By Bob Board

Over and over again, the people of Paulding County told political leaders at the ballot box that they did not want a new airport in the county.

The people reject bringing the congestion and noise of a big-city lifestyle into our natural sanctuary, an idyllic country setting. But past county leaders joined in a plan to force a commercial airport into being, without the knowledge of unsuspecting taxpayers. They schemed and plotted against the people of Paulding, who did not want the expense and annoyance of an airport in our county.

Sadly, the secret was not discovered until it was too late to stop the airport.

Now we are told by our current board of commissioners — and all who support the airport — that the airport project is not going away, and that the harm done to us will greatly benefit the rest of the county through job growth. The past is the past, they say. We must get over governmental transgressions and invest our future as a community into this exciting economic development asset recently renamed Silver Comet Field, a.k.a Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport.

They keep telling us this unwanted airport is, in reality, a wonderful economic boon for the county.

That is not the truth of the matter as we see it.

We see yet another government scheme perpetrated on the people by those who, for fun and self-enrichment, wish to transform our little country corner of Georgia into Atlanta Jr., with a 24-hour full-service commercial airport, big-city traffic, pollution, congestion, crime and lots of city noise.

The people of western Paulding County have suffered a tremendous loss of the quality lifestyle that originally brought us here, along with a loss in the economic value of our homes and property.

Last week, in front of a packed meeting room of concerned citizens, the Paulding Airport Authority passed nearly $8 million in taxpayer-supported bonds for the airport expansion, on top of untold millions of dollars worth of prior bonds. All the county commissioners knew about the commercialization of the airport except Todd Pownall, who represents the people of west Paulding.

It was revealed recently that commission members, Industrial Building Authority members and airport authority members have engaged in a plan to hide a contract with Propeller Investments that will transform our sleepy little country airport into a second Atlanta airport with regularly scheduled passenger and cargo service.

If this is so wonderful for our county, why the secrecy?

Now, our ecosystem is threatened by fuel spills. Well-water supplies are endangered and, as one environmental surveyor told us when he was caught trespassing, “You can’t move that much dirt and not cause environmental impact.”

We have a right as American citizens to know what our government plans to do to our community. We deserve the truth.

Paulding County resident Bob Board lives about a mile from Silver Comet Field.

Expanded airport will add to county coffers

By Brett Smith

Georgia is a leader in aviation-related jobs in the United States. Because of that leadership, we’re excited to be joining with the Paulding County Airport Authority to launch Silver Comet Field at Northwest Atlanta.

We want to capitalize on the skilled workforce in metro Atlanta and on the region’s proximity to other aviation-related businesses to create jobs and economic development in Paulding County – where more than 75 percent of the workforce leaves the county each day.

Because county leaders are committed to business development and job creation, we are confident companies will want to locate here and create highly skilled and good-paying manufacturing jobs adjacent to the brand-new airport, once they see what we have to offer.

Besides the exciting prospects for job growth and economic vitality, Paulding residents will benefit by having a multi-million-dollar investment begin to pay for itself and actually add to the tax base. Revenues generated from this agreement can be used to offset property taxes and help fund schools, public safety, hospitals, roads and bridges.

Our agreement with Paulding provides the county a new stream of revenue from landing fees, taxes on based aircraft, a percentage of gross revenue from operations, ground rental income from Propeller, terminal sales tax receipts, and additional monies from all of the businesses that spring up around the airport. Total revenue to the county resulting from the airport will be millions of dollars every year.

An ancillary benefit of the new airport will be its reclassification allowing limited commercial service to begin in the next few months.

Service at Silver Comet Field will provide primarily leisure travelers with a more convenient and less expensive alternative to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where nearly 90 percent of flights are controlled by one carrier.

Our vision is not to create a large commercial hub airport with hundreds of flights a day. What we envision is a small, easily accessible airport without the traffic, delays and congestion of Hartsfield-Jackson, providing families direct flights to vacation destinations and a better, hassle-free customer service experience.

Atlanta is the only one of the top 10 metro areas in the country without a secondary commercial airport. This serves as a hindrance when competing with other cities in today’s global economy to lure businesses, jobs and new residents.

With more than 1 million people living within a 25-mile radius of Silver Comet field and more than 5 million people in the metro area, we are certain – and so are the airlines we’re speaking with – that this type of service will be viable and successful here.

Our goal is to announce an airline before the end of the year.

Paulding County residents should applaud the leadership of the County Commission and the Airport Authority. They are fortunate to have proactive, forward-looking leaders.

Brett Smith is CEO of Propeller Investments.

One comment Add your comment

SAWB

October 29th, 2013
4:05 pm

While I’ve only casually followed this issue it does sort of fail the “smell test”. At this point I’m not sure what options they have, but I do know if the majority of citizens oppose this project or the Commission’s actions they always have the ballot box.