NORTH COAST RAILROAD AUTHORITY (NCRA)

BOARD OF DIRECTORS REGULAR MEETING MINUTES

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21, 2001 AT 10:00 A.M.

 

HEALDSBURG CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS
401 GROVE STREET, HEALDSBURG, SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, USA

 

 

A.        CALL TO ORDER

            Chair Ripple called the meeting to order at 10:04 a.m.

 

B.        ROLL CALL

Directors present:  Chair David Ripple, Max Schlienger, Robert E. Simonson, Daniel Opalach, and Jake Mackenzie.

            Directors absent:  First Chair Allan Hemphill and Robert Jehn.

Also present:  Executive Director Max H Bridges, General Counsel Christopher J Neary, Property Manager Cyndee Logan, Accountant Wade Fulton, and Administrative Assistant Pamela Fishtrom.

 

C.        MINUTES

1.                  Approve Minutes of February 28, 2001 Passenger Committee Meeting

2.         Approve Minutes of February 28, 2001 Regular Board Meeting

 

Dir. Opalach moved to approve both sets of Minutes with the following modifications to the Regular Meeting Minutes:  in the Public Comments section - speaker Pete Oringer is associated with the North Coast Leadership Roundtable and he emphasized the Humboldt Bay area is suffering socially and economically due to the closure of the NWP (Northwestern Pacific Railroad); and correct the  spelling of Caltrans (California Department of Transportation); seconded by Dir. Schlienger. Vote taken; motion passed.

 

Dir. Hemphill arrived at 10:06 a.m.  Dir. Jehn arrived at 10:09 a.m.

 

D.        AGENDA APPROVAL

 

Chair Ripple announced the need to agendize several items that surfaced since the Agenda was posted:     Discussion of funding pivot work on the Haystack Landing Bridge; Memorandum of Understanding with the Consent Decree Agencies; Authorization to offer Northwestern Pacific Railroad Authority (NWPRA) a 5-year term on the loan for repair work on Haystack Landing Bridge’s fender system; and a letter of appreciation to Joseph Golden.  Dir. Opalach recommended inclusion of the Item, Matters from Board Members.

 

Dir. Mackenzie moved approval of the Agenda with the suggested changes; seconded by Dir. Opalach.  Vote taken; motion passed unanimously.

 

E.         PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

David Schonbrunn, Marin Advocates for Transit, encouraged the Board to resolve issues of governance over the line.

 

Michael Feiner, Hopland Band of Pomo Indians, introduced Brian Yepez, Council Member and Treasurer for the Tribe and Trina Cuellar, Vice President of Operations for the Economic Development Corporation, to discuss their interest in development of the Railroad’s property in Hopland.  Mr. Yepez, assured the Board that as both Tribal Treasurer and Chairman of the Train Depot Plaza of the Hopland Community Alliance, the agencies are working together to facilitate development of the Hopland Train Depot.

 

James Quinn, former California Public Utilities Commission attorney, expressed concern that a deadline of June 30, 2002 for accessing the $60 million grant is approaching.  Mr. Quinn blamed Caltrans for slowing the process by using regulatory power to enforce endless requirements with no plan showing the timing of release of funds or repair of the Railroad.  He recommended, if the Board did not receive proper assurances from Caltrans that the funds would be released in time, the issue be raised to elected officials.  Also, he recommended geographic sequencing of repair so it is not necessary to finalize one project before another starts.  Finally, he suggested the Board remain pro-active in repair of the Railroad by cultivating good media contacts, keeping the public informed about the benefits of NWP operations, countering environmentalists arguments against the Railroad through the Eel River canyon, informing the public about the Railroad’s ability to enhance the economy of Humboldt County, and attending the quarterly meetings held by Caltrans.      

 

Dir. Mackenzie moved to approve agendizing an item for the next meeting asking staff to prepare a proposal that explores how NCRA can make available the meeting notes and action items from the quarterly meeting/staff workshop; seconded by Dir. Jehn.  Vote taken; motion passed. 

 

Mike Pechner, NWP Supporter, expressed support for Mr. Quinn’s position, and provided a weather report.

 

Dir. Mackenzie asked staff to provide clarification of the requirements under the Brown Act in terms of allowing the public to attend the quarterly meeting/staff workshop.

 

George Elsmore, CPUC Railroad Safety Branch Supervisor, noted Mr. Quinn’s comments are his own and do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the Commission or the Commission’s staff.

 

F.         CONDUCT OF BUSINESS

1.                  Approve Contract for Property Management Services

Mr. Bridges presented a renewal contract in which he recommended an increase in monthly payment.  On the advice of legal counsel, he recommended removing the requirement to carry general liability insurance.  Additionally, he recommended limited track inspections at the expense of the Authority. Mr. Neary said reference to Williams Communications under Attachment B needs to be removed.  Chair Ripple pointed out formatting errors, and asked for a list of lease crossings  Dir. Simonson noted an inconsistency under Items B.4.2 and B.4.3 which Mr. Neary clarified.   

 

Dir. Hemphill moved to approve the contract subject to the modifications mentioned; seconded by Dir. Mackenzie.  Vote taken; motion carried. 

 

2.                  Policy Measure Regarding Request for Proposal Criteria for Passenger Franchisee

Dir. Hemphill requested tabling this Item to the next Board Meeting.

 

            3.         Approve Format for Encroachment Agreement

 

Dir. Jehn moved approval of the proposed encroachment agreement subject to the Board’s recommendation that the property owner be allowed to submit one encroachment agreement which discloses the contractor performing the work, and adoption of a separate fee schedule; seconded by Dir. Mackenzie.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

4.            Consider Secondary Programmatic Agreement

Mr. Neary recommended tabling this Item until April because a supplemental Environmental Assessment is expected to be released in 60 days.

 

5.            Discussion of Funding Pivot Work on the Haystack Landing Bridge

Mr. Bridges explained the pivots on the Haystack Landing Bridge are in need of urgent repair.  A proposal to perform the repairs was submitted by Northwestern Pacific Railway Co. LLC (NWPY).

 

Dir. Mackenzie moved to grant authorization to spend up to $25,000 for completion of repairs to the Haystack Landing Bridge as soon as possible; seconded by Dir. Opalach.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

6.            Memorandum of Understanding with Consent Decree Agencies

Mr. Bridges reported the California Transportation Commission requires a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between NCRA and the parties to the Consent Decree before release of funds under the Traffic Congestion Relief Program (TCRP) for environmental issues.   

 

Dir. Hemphill moved to have the Chair, in collaboration with counsel, help staff in obtaining a signed Memorandum; seconded by Dir. Mackenzie.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

7.            Authorize Offer of a 5-Year Term to Pay Loan from NWPRA

 

Dir. Hemphill moved to authorize legal counsel to offer a 5-year term in re-paying a loan from NWPRA at the legally allowed interest rate; seconded by Dir. Jehn.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

8.         Letter of Appreciation to Joseph Golden

Mr. Neary explained that Mr. Golden’s levy gave way washing out several hundred feet of railroad track.  Mr. Golden took immediate action to have the track repaired.

 

Dir. Mackenzie moved to support sending a letter of appreciation signed by the Chair, Executive Director, and staff, which contains the commendations of all Board members; seconded by Dir. Jehn.  Vote taken; motion carried. 

 

G.         LIAISON REPORTS

1.                  Northwestern Pacific Railroad Authority (NWPRA) – Mr. Bridges

Mr. Bridges reported considerable discussion on the Haystack Landing Bridge; station site development; an update on the financial statements.  Dir. Hemphill reported there was also a sub-committee meeting on the governance issue.

 

2.         Legislation – Mr. Bridges

No report. 

     

3.         Passenger – Dir. Hemphill, Dir. Opalach, and Dir. Schlienger

                        The Committee was not able to meet prior to this Meeting.

 

4.            Cities – Dir. Mackenzie

Dir. Mackenzie reported a number of ad-hoc committees on transportation funding mechanisms have sprung up within the Sonoma County Transportation Authority.  He will report back to the Board discussion on passenger rail.

 

5.         Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit Commission (SMART) – Dir. Jehn

Dir. Jehn reported the SMART Commission meets today at 2:00 pm where he will hear the first formal report by the new project manager on process for development of engineering and environmental work for the first phase.

 

6.         Mendocino Council of Governments Technical Advisory Committee – Ms. Logan

Ms. Logan reported a representative from NWPY is attending the meeting now to present crossing signal specifications.

 

7.         Web Site – Dir. Jehn

Dir. Jehn reported 6,000 hits this month with 209 subscribers; video clips from the ribbon-cutting ceremony are up; and he will continue to work with staff in posting information after he steps down.

           

8.            Contractor – Northwestern Pacific Railway Co. LLC (NWPY)

John Darling, NWPY Chief Executive Officer, reported:

·        the Railroad is open and shipping commodities – about 80 revenue cars so far

·        an inspection by the Federal Railroad Administration on program issues was successful with the exception of the use of wrong forms by the agency which performed drug testing

·        thanks to Mr. Golden for his cooperation in repairing the track that his broken levy damaged

·        offering the services of NWPY to help comply with requirements imposed by Caltrans in completing track repairs between Windsor and Willits, and

·        between Petaluma and Windsor, track repairs are complete and signal repairs should be complete in 2-3 weeks. 

                 

H.        STAFF REPORTS

1.         Executive Director Max H Bridges

Mr. Bridges reported:

·        he and Chair Ripple spent a day with Caltrans District 1 staff working on a strategic plan which he hopes to complete in a couple of weeks

·        input from the parties to the Consent Decree will be added to the request for proposals for environmental work which will also be completed soon

·        Ms. Fishtrom will be organizing files in the Clovedale Depot office

·        he will follow-up on a letter sent by Congressman Thompson to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and

·        recruitment continues for a project manager.

 

2.         General Counsel Christopher J Neary

                        Mr. Neary happily reported there is no Closed Session Items regarding litigation this month.

 

3.         Property Manager Cyndee Logan

Ms. Logan reported previously billing original lease rates established when the corridor was under-valued during abandonment proceedings.

 

4.         Administrative Budget Report and Monthly Financial Statements

Mr. Fulton reported:

·        on the debt reduction process:  approximately $2.8 million was paid for judgment debt in January; $6.3 million for approximately 50 out of 80 creditors was paid in February; follow-up correspondence was sent to the remaining unpaid vendors; and the web site will be updated with this information

·        Aycock and Edgmon, CPAs have begun the single year audit for July 1999 - June 2000

·        Caltrans is performing an audit of Herzog and will be conducting a follow-up audit of NCRA

·        the deferred revenue on the balance sheet is funds received from the TCRP program for South End repair and for administration; the income statement reflects new categories related to debt repayment, and

·        $758,000 was paid to bring the Community Disaster Loan current; however, NCRA has applied, and expects, to be forgiven of this debt.       

 

I.         MATTERS FROM BOARD MEMBERS

Dir. Opalach reported:

·        responding to a letter critical on the condition of the Eel River in the North Coast Journal

·        continuing to attend meetings in Humboldt County to give updates on the status of the Railroad, and

·        meeting with Liz Murguia, Congressman Thompson’s field representative. 

 

J.         ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEXT MEETING

            Regular Board Meeting – April 18, 2001 at 10:00 a.m.                         

Willits City Council Chambers, 111 East Commercial Street, Healdsburg, Mendocino County, CA

 

K.        CLOSED SESSION – Convened at 12:50 pm

 

L.        ANNOUNCEMENT OF ACTION TAKEN IN CLOSED SESSION – Reconvened at 1:10 pm

            Conference with Real Estate Negotiator – Ms. Logan

            Government Code § 54946.8

            Fiber Optics – Pacific Bell

            Chair Ripple announced the Board received information and provided direction to Ms. Logan.

 

M.       ADJOURNMENT 

            Chair Ripple adjourned the meeting at 1:12 pm.