NORTH COAST RAILROAD AUTHORITY (NCRA)

BOARD OF DIRECTORS REGULAR MEETING MINUTES

 

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2001 AT 10:00 A.M.

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

 

 

A.        CALL TO ORDER 

            The meeting was called to order at 10:05 a.m.

 

B.        ROLL CALL

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

Director absent:  Jake Mackenzie.

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

 

C.        MINUTES

                Approve Minutes of October 17, 2001 Regular Board Meeting

 

                Dir. Opalach suggested re-wording Item I.

     

Dir. Schlienger moved to approve the Minutes with the suggested change; seconded by Dir. Hemphill.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

D.        AGENDA APPROVAL

                 

Mr. Bridges asked to have Items F.3 and F.11 removed.  Dir. Hemphill asked Item F.1 be rearranged so that action on Resolution 2001-06 precedes the staff report.

 

Dir. Simonson moved to approve the Agenda with the requested changes; seconded by Dir. Opalach.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

E.         PUBLIC COMMENTS

Daniel Pierce advocated for a transportation system around Humboldt Bay.

 

Dave Berriman, member of Northern Counties Logging Interpretive Association and President of Humboldt Bay and Eureka Model Railroad Club, encouraged prioritizing passenger and tourist service.

 

Fred Carmichael of Eureka, encouraged beginning each meeting with a moment of silence.

 

F.         CONDUCT OF BUSINESS

1.            Action on Resolution 2001-06 Establishing Policy and Staff Report on Alternate Project

Mr. Bridges introduced Resolution 2001-06 to re-affirm NCRA policy that its fundamental goal is to re-establish freight and passenger service over the entire NWP as soon as possible.  Improvements were suggested and a final version created.

 

Dir. Hemphill moved adoption of Resolution 2001-06 as changed; seconded by Dir. Simonson.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

Mr. Bridges said the Alternate Project proposal would need to promote re-opening at least as fast as the present Improved Project; insure re-opening of the entire Railroad; insure future eligibility for disaster funds; and, funds would need to be re-programmed to re-open the North End. 

 

Regarding the Environmental Assessment, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is waiting for NCRA to contract with consultants to integrate compliance with the Environmental Consent Decree into the Improved Project scope of work.

 

Bonnie Neely, Vice Chair of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, voiced her Board’s unanimous opposition to the Alternate Project and requested local government and civic groups be notified regarding decisions that impact Humboldt County.

 

Brent Hawkins, Executive Vice President of Samoa Pacific Cellulose, LLC, stated how his business would benefit by rail service, and his industry seeks NCRA’s commitment to link the rail to the port rather than signaling delay by diverting funds.

 

Jackie Duschel, representing two entities, Simpson Timber Company and the Eureka Chamber of Commerce, asked the Board to re-establish service by honoring their original agreement: pursue the Improved Project.

 

Barbara Kelly, League of Women Voters, testified in favor of restored rail service to Humboldt County by using the funds intended for that purpose, rather than losing ten percent by diverting the funds elsewhere.

 

Roy Comer, Trash Transfer Manager at the Waste Station, ships 300 loads per day by truck and  wants a rail option.

 

Robert Noble, Arcata City Council representing Mayor Constance E Stewart and also serves Redwood Region Economic Development Commission, said restoration of the Railroad is crucial to this area’s plans, and strongly encouraged the Board to move forward with its original plan.

 

Nadananda, Executive Director of Friends of the Eel River, offered assistance in providing environmental information through the Eel River Canyon to open a dialogue between entities.

 

Ron Fritzsche, Third Division Commissioner and President of the Board of the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District, presented their Resolution 2001-12 supporting restoration of rail service along the entire NWP line. 

 

Daniel Pierce, recommended the use of concrete ties and more emphasis on passenger service.

 

Cliff Chapman, Executive Director of Fortuna Chamber of Commerce and Mayor of Fortuna, is accessing State money to upgrade crossings, and supports the Railroad however opposes the Alternate Project.

 

Pete Oringer, Northwestern Pacific Support Coalition – a group of civic organizations committed to returning rail service to the North Coast, summarized the concerns of the previous speakers and asked the Board to put the Alternate Project in abeyance and not jeopardize the re-opening project.

 

Hal Wagenet, candidate for the Third District Supervisor of Mendocino County, expressed his support for the Railroad.

 

Marcus Brown, thanked the Board for meeting with area residents to discuss the Alternate Project.

 

Kaye Strickland, Citizens for Port Development, presented a letter reiterating much of what was said, and asked the Board to get all necessary assurances before considering any project alternatives.  

       

2.                  Present Proposal Regarding Grant to Rebuild Historic Eureka Depot –

by Marcus Brown, President of Northern Counties Logging Interpretive Association

Mr. Brown asked if NCRA would lease property to the City of Eureka before they apply for a grant application to build a replica of the Historic Eureka Depot.

 

Dir. Sears motioned to provide the City of Eureka a letter worded, “It is our understanding that you wish to pursue grant funding to construct an intermodal facility at the historic site of the Railroad depot.  We would be pleased to entertain a market value lease proposal to accommodate such a project;” seconded by Dir. Hemphill.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

3.                  Friends of the Annie and Mary Rail-Trails Presentation by Jennifer Rice, Projects Coordinator for Natural Resources Services Division of the Redwood Community Action Agency

This Item was pulled from the Agenda.

 

4.                  Caltrans Audit Summary Report

Mr. Bridges reported representatives of the Caltrans Audit Division are unable to attend.

 

5.                  Response to Single Year Audit for Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2000

Mr. Bridges reported the responses have not been completed.

 

6.                  Proposed New NCRA Logo

Mr. Bridges presented a revised logo for NCRA.

 

Dir. Sears moved to adopt the logo put forward to us last month; seconded by Dir. Hemphill.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

7.                  Discuss Interim and Long-Term Accounting Functions

Mr. Bridges presented a proposal from Sonoma County to perform NCRA’s accounting functions which is less than hiring a staff accountant.

 

Dir. Hemphill moved to accept the proposal the Executive Director developed to contract with the County of Sonoma to provide accounting services subject to revocation if ascertained that might be necessary; seconded by Dir. Simonson.  Roll call vote taken; all Directors present voting, “aye;” motion carried.

 

8.                  Discuss Public Relations

Dir. Sears reported NCRA’s web site now has a side bar with connections to news articles.  Dir. Hemphill reported directly after each meeting an Action Summary will be posted.

 

9.                  Approve Fee Waiver for State Transportation Infrastructure Program Funded Rail Projects

 

Dir. Schlienger motioned to adopt wording suggested by the Property Management Committee, “To waive encroachment fees for government agencies working to improve existing facilities for the benefit of the North Coast Railroad Authority;” seconded by Dir. Sears.  Vote taken; motion carried.

 

10.              Consider Strategy Regarding Car Hire Obligation

Mr. Bridges reported car hire debt continues to increase.  Options were discussed including the use of $400,000 of Transit Capital Improvement funds to reduce the debt.  Mr. Bridges was directed to negotiate a settlement where NCRA purchases stranded cars to stop accruing debt.

 

11.              Clarify Property Manager Contract

This Item was pulled from the Agenda.

 

G.        LIAISON REPORTS

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

No report.

 

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

Mr. Bridges will meet tomorrow as part of a committee created to select appropriate vehicles.

 

3.                  Legislation – Mr. Bridges

No report.

 

4.                  Web Site

No report.

 

5.         Cities – Dir. Mackenzie

Dir. Mackenzie was absent.

             

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

No report.

 

H.        COMMITTEE REPORTS

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

Dir. Hemphill reported sales have been made difficult because of the inability to move equipment.

 

2.            Permanent Operator – Chair Ripple, Dir. Hemphill, Dir. Sears

Mr. Bridges reported no interest by interim operators without serious subsidy, and he continues to work towards development of a Request for Proposals for a permanent operator.

 

3.         NWP Governance – Chair Ripple, Dir. Hemphill, and Dir. Sears

Dir. Hemphill said he met with the NWPRA Governance Committee where he asserted, in response to resolutions by Sonoma and Marin Counties advocating folding NWPRA into a new agency, future discussions of governance requires representation by NCRA as partners in ownership, as operator, and as the agency responsible for repayment of the Q-Fund loan which purchased the Southern portion of the line.

 

I.          STAFF REPORTS

1.         Executive Director Max H Bridges

Mr. Bridges reported he will visit the Pratt Mountain repeater site on his way home.

 

            2.         Assistant Executive Director Douglas Christy

Mr. Christy reported the re-hab work between Windsor and Willits is on budget without delay.  He will discuss with the General Contractor weed and brush control and signal issues to prepare them for shut down.  Emergency maintenance issues are being referred to the Cloverdale office and protection of assets is of top priority.   

 

3.         General Counsel Christopher J Neary

a.         Revised Independent Contractor Policy

b.            Mass Electric Claim

c.             Opinion on use of TCRP and ISTEA Funds

Mr. Neary presented information for review by the Board.

 

            4.         Property Manager Cyndee Logan

                        Nothing further.

 

J.         MATTERS FROM BOARD MEMBERS

            None.

 

K.        ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEXT MEETING

            Regular Board Meeting – December 19, 2001 10:00 am

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

 

L.         CLOSED SESSION – Convened at 1:56 p.m.        

 

M.       ANNOUNCEMENT OF ACTION TAKEN IN CLOSED SESSION – Reconvened at 2:20 p.m.

1.         Conference with Legal Counsel Neary – Anticipated Litigation

Government Code § 54956.9(b)

Significant Exposure to Litigation – One Case

               

2.            Conference with Legal Counsel Neary – Existing Litigation

Government Code § 54956.9(a)

a.         Rail-Ways, Inc. v. Benson, U.S Bankruptcy Court, N.D. Cal., Adv. Proc. No. 01-1101

Lawsuit to avoid preference with respect to a disputed fund held by NCRA in which makes no claim.

 

b.                  Mass Electric v. Rail-Ways, Inc., et al.,

Mendocino County Superior Court, Case No. 85230

 

c.         NWPRA/NCRA v Lind Marine,

Sonoma County Superior Court, Case No. 225080

 

Mr. Neary announced he was given direction by the Board.

 

N.        ADJOURNMENT

            The Meeting was adjourned at 2:22 p.m.