NORTH COAST RAILROAD AUTHORITY (NCRA)
BOARD OF DIRECTORS REGULAR MEETING
Wednesday, February 16, 2005 10:00 AM
Fortuna City Council Chambers - 621 11th Street, Fortuna, Humboldt County
A. CALL TO ORDER
Chair Woolley called the meeting to order at 10:05 am.
B. ROLL CALL
The roll was called with the following members present: Directors Ellinger, Hemphill, Ollivier, Simonson, and Chair Woolley. Absent: Director La Vallee and Director Ripple.
Also present were Executive Director Mitch Stogner, General Counsel Chris Neary, Recording Secretary Dina Polkinghorne and Administrative Assistant Heather Newell.
C. AGENDA APPROVAL
The Agenda stood as approved
D. CONSENT CALENDAR
1. Approval of Minutes – January 2005
2. Approval of Financial Statements – January 2005
Upon motion by Director Ellinger, 2nd by Director Hemphill, and carried (7-0), the Consent Calendar was approved as presented.
E. PUBLIC COMMENT
Daniel Pierce – Mr. Pierce urged the board to focus more on the North end of the line and also stated that people who live near the north end do not believe the railroad will ever come back. He referenced a project in San Diego where public input played a role in revitalizing a roller coaster and that perhaps the people of Humboldt County need to do the same with guidance from the NCRA.
Marcus Brown – Mr. Brown, a member of the Timber Heritage Association, stated that his organization has completed a feasibility study for the museum component of his project. The study includes a paragraph on the importance of the museum and that excursion service combined with a completed museum is “greater than the sum of its parts”.
Kaye Strickland – Ms Strickland urged the board to put Moss Bittner’s presentation on the NCRA website.
Nick Mitchell – Mr. Mitchell stated that he is an unemployed railroad engineer, a 4th generation railroad engineer. He suggested that there are many local community and government groups who could be funneled into one group for support to deal with issues like weed abatement and deteriorating culverts.
Pete Oringer - Mr Oringer suggested that Mr. Bittner’s presentation should only go on the NCRA website if the text can be included too.
In regards to the comments made, Chair Woolley stated that the Board is now, and always has been, very concerned about the North End of the railroad. He suggested that members of the public access the NCRA Strategic Plan on the website as it references plans for opening up the North End. He also commented that the North End is the “gem” of the line and holds the key to the viability of the entire line. He announced that Director Ollivier and his wife Carol will be attending the Timber Heritage Dinner on behalf of the NCRA. In regards to volunteering on the line for maintenance, etc, he stated that any interested volunteers should contact the Operator, NWPY, as all work must be coordinated through the Operator.
1. HNTB – Dave Anderson
Bridge Inspection Report
Mr. Anderson provided the Board with a Power Point presentation regarding two recent inspections of the Blackpoint and the Haystack bridges as part of the FEMA Alternate Project. He thanked Brian Swedburg – Harbor Master for the Port of Sonoma and NWPY General Manager John Darling for their assistance with the inspections.
In regards to the Blackpoint, the report provides that overall the bridge is in good condition but suggests that 25% of the piles need replacing and the upstream dolphin needs immediate replacement. An estimation of the repair costs is approximately $916,300, which includes a 25% contingency.
Mr. Anderson reported that the Haystack is structurally good but the pivot pier needs stabilizing and that the timber blocking be replaced with concrete. The southern approach is in good condition but the fendering system needs work and 25% of the timber piles need replacing. The machinery has suffered a lot of damage due to vandalism and needs some major electrical work done. He reported that the estimate for repair costs for the Haystack is approximately $1,068,200.
Mr Stogner stated that the North End depends on having an operational South End and the South End cannot function without these two major bridges working properly – both are essential for allowing the entire railroad to connect with the national exchange. He further stated that FEMA has already approved the report and the design for the repairs. The next step is to get approval of N.O.A.A. and the National Marine Fisheries Service, then go back to FEMA to actually start the repairs.
Director Hemphill stated that the NCRA is under orders from the Coast Guard to fix the two bridges and that the barge operators have made it clear that the bridges should be removed all together, therefore the NCRA has no choice but to deal with this issue immediately and that the North End for now, will have to wait.
2. Oscar Larson & Associates – Ken Davlin
Port of Oakland & Port of Humboldt Bay Potential Partnership
Mr. Davlin stated that the Humboldt Bay Harbor and Recreation District recently hired him to develop a work plan between the Ports of Oakland and Humboldt Bay. He reported that the Port of Oakland is looking at the Port of Humboldt to function as a “satellite” port as a way to ease congestion, lower air pollution, and to move goods to the Port of Los Angeles faster. The immediate way to transport cargo from Oakland to Humboldt would be by barge, but ultimately railroad service would be more cost efficient. In addition, Mr Davlin stated that Governor Schwarzenegger is actively promoting business with Asia, but is under pressure to first prove that California is taking measures to improve its ability to accept freight. The Governor is exploring port issues as part of this process and a partnership between Humboldt and Oakland could play a key part.
Chair Woolley stated that it is vital that the NCRA focus on connectivity issues and suggested that the NCRA create a Maritime Committee comprised of Director LaVallee, Ollivier, and himself. The board approved with no objections.
Director Ollivier provided a brief assessment of the current situation with freight coming from Asia and the Pacific Rim to North America.
G. CONDUCT OF BUSINESS
1. Discussion re: Railbanking
Chair Woolley stated that the City of Arcata and other public groups are interested in railbanking the tracks through the northern portion of Arcata.
Mr. Neary stated that as a practical matter this item is only a discussion item at this time since the board approved the concept last year, for a separate section of track, with specific direction to City representatives to bring a formal proposal to the board for final consideration. He reported that the procedure for railbanking includes “mothballing” tracks for the purpose of preserving the line without abandoning it. The section of track the City is now looking at could not be rail banked since its part of the mainline – the more appropriate project would be a “Rails with Trails” project.
Mr. Neary further reported that railbanking, a federal program, could be available on the Arcata and Mad River Railroad (AMRR) since it is not part of the mainline - NCRA staff could work with the various public groups interested in railbanking the AMRR, but would not be the lead agency in such a pursuit. He further suggested that a license agreement could be worked out eventually with the City of Arcata to create a Rails with Trails project on a portion of the mainline, but urged the board to not enter into any agreement unless it specifically states that the City of Arcata be responsible for restoring the tracks when train service eventually resumes.
Daniel Pierce, Marcus Brown, and Kaye Strickland – all members of the public, urged the board to not allow any trails over or near the tracks.
Chair Woolley stated that the NCRA has given conceptual approval already, however, any agreement would have protections built in that preserve the corridor.
2. Discussion re: Policies and Procedures Manual
Mr. Neary reported that the board has been given copies of the manual and that final adoption will be on the agenda in March.
H. STAFF REPORTS
1. Executive Director Mitch Stogner
a.) Update FEMA Alternate Project
Mr. Stogner reported that the NCRA received a letter from OES approving the bridge inspection work and design. A further letter approving the spending of $1.9 million for repairs is still pending at this time. He also reported that the NCRA requested a CEQA exemption on January 25th and that is also still pending.
b.) Mayors letter to Sen. Chesbro & Assemblymember Berg
Mr. Stogner thanked Director LaVallee for his assistance with the letter from the Mayors. The letter was mailed to Senator Chesbro, and subsequently he will be introducing legislation on Friday, February 18th that will hopefully provide the NCRA with administrative funding.
c.) TEA 21 Reauthorization Update
Mr. Stogner reported that the bill was introduced last week and that there is urgency in Washington to get it passed. The bill includes two provisions for the NCRA regarding the Q-Fund loan and old ISTEA funds.
2. Legal Counsel Chris Neary
The board convened into Closed Session at 11:55 am
I. CLOSED SESSION
1. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL-ANTICIPATED LITIGATION
Significant exposure to litigation. Government Code Section 54956.9 (b) two cases
2. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL-ANTICIPATED LITIGATION
Significant exposure to litigation. Government Code Section 54956.9 (c) one case
3. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL-EXISTING LITIGATION
Government Code Section 54956.9 (a)
Michael H. Meyer vs. NCRA
Surface Transportation Board Docket # 34337
4. CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATORS
a) Property: 336 N. Lenore Avenue, Willits Ca
Agency Negotiator: Mitch Stogner
Negotiating Parties: G and S Milling.
Under Negotiation: Terms, Price
Government Code Section 54956.8
b) Property: Crossing to land formerly owned by Louisiana Pacific near Cloverdale California
Agency Negotiator: Rob Krantz through designee Mitch Stogner
Negotiating Parties: NCRA-Tyris Corp.
Under Negotiation: Terms, Price
Government Code Section 54956.8
5. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL- EXISTING LITIGATION
Government Code Section 54956.9 (a)
NCRA vs. Jerico Products Inc. et al.
Sonoma Superior Court # 235961
The board reconvened into Open Session at 1:27 pm
J. ANNOUNCEMENT OUT OF CLOSED SESSION
On item I.1, the board unanimously voted to extend indemnity to SMART. On all other items the board received information and gave direction.
K. ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEXT MEETING
Chair Woolley announced that the next NCRA board meeting is scheduled for March 16, 2005 in Healdsburg at the City Council Chambers, 10:00 am.
Chair Woolley adjourned the meeting at 1:30 pm