NORTH COAST RAILROAD AUTHORITY (NCRA)

BOARD OF DIRECTORS REGULAR MEETING MINUTES

 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 16, 2001 AT 10:00 A.M.

 

EUREKA CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS
531 K STREET, EUREKA, HUMBOLDT COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, USA

 

A.        CALL TO ORDER

            Chair Ripple called the meeting to order at 9:56 a.m.

 

B.        ROLL CALL

Directors present:  Chair David Ripple, Vice Chair Allan Hemphill, Max Schlienger, and Robert Simonson.

            Directors absent:  Jake Mackenzie and Daniel Opalach.

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

 

C.            MINUTES

1.    Approve Minutes of April 18, 2001 Regular Board Meeting

2.            Approve Minutes of April 24, 2001 Special Board Meeting

 

Dir. Hemphill moved approval of the Minutes; seconded by Dir. Schlienger. Vote taken; motion carried.

 

D.        AGENDA APPROVAL

Dir. Hemphill requested addition of an item which surfaced within the previous 72 hours: leasing the power car.  Mr. Bridges requested addition of an item: purchase of a company vehicle.                   

 

Chair Ripple asked the Board of Directors to vote on whether the Items suggested would be added to the Agenda.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

E.             PUBLIC COMMENTS

Pete Oringer, on behalf of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Support Coalition (NWPSC), Dir. Opalach, and former executive director Dan Hauser, congratulated Ms. Fishtrom for 5 years of service with NCRA.  Also, Mr. Oringer reported the Cities of Eureka and Arcata support grant proposals to pursue the Humboldt Bay tourist train, and a fund raising dinner is scheduled for June 23.  Finally, he encouraged NCRA to attend, give input, and consider traffic studies in Eureka especially in terms of the proposed Waterfront Drive extension so that any decision which affects future port/rail development will be successfully integrated with planning efforts in this area.

 

Marcus Brown, Northern Counties Logging Interpretive Association President, spoke with Dave Tyson, Eureka City Manager, regarding the excursion train.  Having learned a feasibility study was done regarding an intermodal transit facility, Mr. Brown encouraged Mr. Tyson to re-visit the project and consider the rail yard at the Eureka Depot as an excellent place to build a replica of the original depot containing ticket offices and ample parking.

 

Kaye Strickland, Citizens for Port Development, said former director Mr. Jehn is to speak to the Sierra Club.  To respond to Ken Ryan, the State person for the Sierra Club, she received, and read a portion of, a letter from Dave Hull, Chief Executive Officer of the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District, in which he describes the port/rail connection as a catalyst to diversifying the economy of the area.

 

Fred Carmichael requested the Board consider a moment of silence before meetings.

 

Jennifer Rice, Redwood Community Action Agency, provided an update on her agency’s plan to develop a trail along the Annie and Mary right of way.

 

Bill Burton encouraged the Board to support the trail project in that the right of way would be preserved as well as protected from vandalism and fire hazards.  

 

F.            CONDUCT OF BUSINESS

1.    Approve Memorandum of Understanding with the California Transportation Commission (CTC) for Repayment of the Q-Fund

Mr. Bridges explained the CTC requires the Board agree to a resolution for deposit of $5.5 million of Traffic Congestion Relief Program (TCRP) funds in an interest bearing account that will eventually pay off the Q-fund. 

 

Dir. Schlienger moved to authorize Mr. Bridges to sign the resolution which allows the money earmarked for the Q-fund to be deposited in an interesting bearing account along with a transfer of $90,000 from the Cloverdale Bypass Settlement held by Sonoma County court; seconded by Dir. Simonson.  Vote taken; motion carried. 

 

2.    Revision to Project Managers Title and Job Description with Salary Establishment

Mr. Bridges presented a revised job description which includes a change in title to Assistant Executive Director expanding the duties to include decision making at the Executive level in the absence of the Executive Director with corresponding salary establishment at $83,000 per year.

 

Dir. Hemphill moved to revise the title, job description, and salary as presented; seconded by Dir. Schlienger.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

The Board of Directors welcomed Douglas Christy as the new Assistant Executive Director.

 

3.         Consider Secondary Programmatic Agreement with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) 

Mr. Neary explained that signing the originally proposed Programmatic Agreement is a policy issue with no room to negotiate with FEMA.  Mr. Bridges spoke with Mr. Roop of an archaeological firm in Petaluma which performed a survey of 23 sites for the Railroad in 1995.  He indicated an awareness of the significant historical sites and could easily provide another study although additional work on stabilization measures would possibly require additional studies.  Having worked with SHPO, Mr. Roop agreed that the Programmatic Agreement should be signed.  A funding source would need to be identified before hiring a consultant.  FEMA funds may be available from those already approved under the improved project; however, new funds may not be allocated.     

 

Dir. Hemphill moved to authorize Mr. Bridges to sign the Programmatic Agreement; seconded by Dir. Schlienger.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

            4.            Leasing the Power Car

Dir. Hemphill explained NCRA owns a consist in Willits which includes a power car.  Mr. Darling suggested leasing the car to NWPY which will lease it to a municipality to ease the threat of blackouts.  The revenue earned would be used to pay the remaining balance of the cars not paid by TCRP funds.  Dir. Hemphill opposed the sale of the power car so that it can be marketed with the rest of the passenger cars that require power.  Mr. Neary reminded the Board that a disposition of surplus property policy needs to be created, however, this consummation may be sanctioned because of the Governor’s emergency order relating to the power crises.

 

Dir. Hemphill moved Mr. Bridges be delegated authority to negotiate a deal involving the power car provided negotiations include a 60 day notice of exit and subject to approval by General Counsel; seconded by Dir. Schlienger.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

5.          Authorize Solicitation of Consultant to Prepare Passenger Service Provider Criteria

Dir. Hemphill reported passenger service criteria can be created easily by a consultant familiar with the rules appropriate to the industry.  Mr. Bridges, having spoke with a consultant, indicated the cost for helping staff to develop criteria could be around $2500. 

 

Dir. Hemphill moved staff be authorized to hire a consultant not to exceed $2500 to aid staff in the creation of criteria; seconded by Dir. Schlienger.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

6.             Approve Applying for Mendocino Council of Governments (MCOG) Transportation

Enhancement Activities (TEA) Program Funds for Ukiah Depot Development

Ms. Logan reported the deadline for application is May 31, 2001.  Currently available is $485,000 however she estimated $100,000 to $200,000 is sufficient.  A 12% match is required.  Rehabilitation of the Ukiah Depot benefits the community and increases public awareness of the Railroad.  Mr. Darling asked the Board to consider allowing NWPY to rehabilitate and use the Ukiah Depot as a freight office.  Ms. Logan will also seek approval from Humboldt County Association of Governments for a similar project for the Eureka Depot.

 

Dir. Hemphill moved to submit the application subject to approval by the Property Management Committee; seconded by Dir. Schlienger.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

7.          Consider Purchase of Company Vehicle for Use by Assistant Executive Director

To allow Mr. Christy access to the track, Mr. Bridges presented a State Department of General Services listing of vehicles available plus a projection of the administration budget showing a potential surplus. 

 

Dir. Hemphill moved to authorize Mr. Bridges to purchase a vehicle for Mr. Christy’s use; seconded by Dir. Schlienger.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

G.         LIAISON REPORTS

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

Mr. Bridges reported NWPRA:

·        approved the loan agreement to fix the Haystack Landing Bridge,

·        received a status report on station sites development, and

·        heard an update on the financial statements.

 

2.         Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit Commission (SMART) – Mr. Bridges

Mr. Bridges reported SMART is recruiting an engineering consultant.  Chair Ripple recommended coordination with SMART so as not to duplicate work between agencies.

 

3.            Legislation – Mr. Bridges

Mr. Bridges reported revisions to the Governor’s budget proposals include possible delays to the funds for the Traffic Congestion Relief Program.  He stressed moving projects forward  quickly.     

 

4.          Web Site

Mr. Bridges reported the web site will soon include Mr. Christy.  

 

5.            Cities – Dir. Mackenzie

No report.

 

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

Mr. Bridges agreed with Dir. Hemphill’s recommendation to prepare a procedure for selling NCRA’s passenger cars within the confines of a “Disposition of Public Assets” policy.

 

7.         Mendocino Council of Governments (MCOG) Technical Advisory Committee – Ms. Logan

Ms. Logan is seeking funds from MCOG’s next cycle, and she expressed interest in pursuing funds from Humboldt County Association of Government’s Regional Transportation Plan as done with MCOG. 

 

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

John Darling, NWPY Chief Executive Officer/ Chief Financial Officer, reported:

·        congratulations to the Board for hiring Mr. Christy,

·        35 cars per month average on the 42 miles open,

·        the opening project to Windsor is delayed by 3 crossing signals; however, a Federal Railroad Administration inspection is expected to be requested on June 1,

·        temporary emergency repairs to the Haystack Landing Bridge are substantially complete, although the fenders still need to be repaired and the bridge will need to be replaced, and

·        his agency will be helpful in the development of the trail program on the Annie and Mary; however, as the carrier he is concerned regarding the safety of bicycles and pedestrians near operating railroads.

 

H.            STAFF REPORTS

1.            Executive Director Max H Bridges

Mr. Bridges reported:

·        California Transportation Commission approval of the applications for the stabilization project and the up-grade project and the allocation of $5 million for the preliminary assessment,

·        meeting with all the parties to the Consent Decree and Caltrans, FEMA, Office of Emergency Services, National Marine Fisheries, and the Wildlife Service where it was decided to combine the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for engineering firms to include environmental remediation,

·        accessing additional TCRP funds is contingent upon NCRA’s progress on projects: partial releases may be available

·        May 24 is a pre-submittal conference for those interested in responding to the RFQ:  June 11 is when responses are due,

·        signing the Programmatic Agreement allows NCRA to provide FEMA/OES with  information which will move forward the Re-Opening Project,

·        FEMA/OES performed an inspection on the Schellville and Burdell Blocks allowing for a potential release of retention funds, and

·        Mr. Jehn asked him to report that the Sierra Club in Sonoma County revealed they are prepared to support the re-opening of the Railroad providing it is done in a responsible, environmentally-sound manner.

 

2.            General Counsel Christopher J Neary

                        Mr. Neary reported:

·      filing an interpleader in the case of Benson vs. Rail-Ways, Inc. was unnecessary,

·      fairly significant public records requests have been received from environmental groups,

·      working with Mr. Fulton to address the Railroad Retirement Board’s issue regarding NCRA’s move to California Public Employees Retirement System, and

·      working on a related issue with the Internal Revenue Service.

 

3.            Property Manager Cyndee Logan

No report.

 

4.            Administrative Budget Report and Monthly Financial Statements

Mr. Fulton reported:

·        Caltrans Audits Division has completed the field work on both NCRA and Herzog; a post audit meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday; a draft audit should be available before the meeting; some exceptions have been found in NCRA’s Proposition 116 billing for Herzog,

·        additional TCRP debt plan creditors will be paid: of $225,181 remaining unpaid, approximately $180,000 will be divided between the creditors opting to have their interest paid sooner, and

·        the remaining debt on the passenger cars is $85,000.

   

I.         MATTERS FROM BOARD MEMBERS

Dir. Schlienger was concerned over an article that said NCRA was in negotiations with the City of Santa Rosa to lay pipeline under the right of way to pump effluent to the Geysers.  Mr. Bridges and Ms. Logan assured him that their only contact with the City was several years ago when a letter was written announcing their intent to pursue the project.  

 

J.         ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEXT MEETING

            Regular Board Meeting – June 20, 2001 at 10:00 a.m.                         

Healdsburg City Council Chambers, 401 Grove Street, Healdsburg, Sonoma County, CA, USA

 

K.        CLOSED SESSION – Convened at 12:00 pm

 

L.        ANNOUNCEMENT OF ACTION TAKEN IN CLOSED SESSION – Reconvened at 1:00 pm

           

1.            Conference with Real Property Negotiator – Ms. Logan

                        Government Code § 54946.8

                        Fiber Optics – Pacific Bell

The Board received information and provided direction to Ms. Logan.

 

2.    Conference with Legal Counsel Neary – Existing Litigation

Government Code § 54956.9(a)

a.      FCM vs. NCRA

b.      Henry Lovio vs. NCRA

The Board received information and provided direction to Mr. Neary.

 

M.            ADJOURNMENT 

            The Meeting was adjourned at 1:05 pm.