NORTH COAST RAILROAD AUTHORITY (NCRA)

BOARD OF DIRECTORS REGULAR MEETING

 

MINUTES

 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2003 AT 9:00 AM

 

WILLITS CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS

111 EAST COMMERCIAL STREET, WILLITS, MENDOCINO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

 

 

A.               CALL TO ORDER

Chair Ripple called the meeting to order at 9:04 am

 

B.               ROLL CALL

Directors Present: Chair David Ripple, Vice Chair Allan Hemphill, Leo Sears,

Robert Simonson and Budge Campbell.

Directors Absent:  John Woolley and Bruce Burton.

Also Present: Executive Director Douglas M. Christy, General Counsel Chris Neary, and Administrative Assistant Louise Evans.

 

C.               AGENDA APPROVAL

Director Hemphill moved to approve agenda with modifications; 2nd by Director Simonson.

 

The following changes were approved:

Agenda lettering should read “K,L,M” not “N,O,P”

 

None opposed, motion carried.

 

Director Bruce Burton arrived at 9:06 am

 

D.              MINUTES APPROVAL

Director Campbell moved to approve Regular Board Minutes Of December 18, 2002 with modifications; 2nd by Director Simonson.

 

The following changes were approved:

Item F. Minutes Approval: should read 6-approved, 1-abstained, motion carried.

Item H.1. Should read …The TCRP is restricted funding and Mr. Roeser will provide the Board with project specific information on TCRP funds in future.

Item H.2. Second paragraph should read …successful mitigation.  NCRA would like to repay the high interest debts this fiscal year.

Item H.2. Third paragraph should read… distributed to the Board of Directors.  The notebooks will be given to Caltrans and the CTC staff…

Item H.8. Should read …One of the conditions is that the city needs to provide temporary facilities for the operator until permanent relocation is made.

 

None opposed; motion carried.

 

Director Sears moved to approve Property Committee Minutes of November 8, 2002 with modifications; 2nd by Director Simonson.

 

The following change was approved:

Item E.3. Easement at foot of “I” Street: The motion should read as follows: Director Sears moved Committee approval of easement in concept and recommends the Board entertain a formal proposal from the city; 2nd by Director Simonson.

 

None opposed; motion carried.

 

The Board of Directors is in agreement that the Consent agenda should be added.

 

Director John Woolley arrived at 9:18 am

 

E.               ELECTION OF OFFICERS

Director Sears nominated Director Woolley as Chair; 2nd by Director Burton.

 

Vote taken, unanimous, 7-0; Director Woolley is designated Chair.

 

Director Hemphill nominated Director Burton as Vice Chair.

 

Director Simonson nominated Director Sears as Vice Chair.

 

Vote taken, 4-Director Sears, 3-Director Burton; Director Sears is designated Vice Chair.

 

Director Hemphill nominated Director Burton as Second Chair.

 

Unanimous vote, 7-0; Director Burton is designated Second Chair.

 

F.                PUBLIC COMMENT

Loren Williams, President, Petaluma Trolley

The Petaluma Trolley could operate without conflict with the Railroad.  Petaluma City Council supports the idea.

 

Ruth Rockefeller

Announced Memorial Service for Gordon Logan; it will be held Sunday, January 19th at 1:30 pm, Willits High School Auditorium.

 

Richard Jergenson read letter from Hannah Burkhart

Concerned about losing TCRP funding.  Felt it would be an end of our dream for the Railroad.  Compared Railroad funds to the cost of freeway by-pass funds.

 

John Curless, California Geological Survey, Watershed Assessment Program

Steve Sterling attended with him.  He expressed his desire to listen and potentially offer solutions down the line.

 

Bruce Evans, NWP Historical Society

Showed support for NCRA and thanked them for preserving railroad artifacts.

 

Jim Quinn

A game plan is necessary, we need to: 1) Focus on a realistic dollar amount; 2) what is the best argument for rehabbing the NWP; and 3) convincingly demonstrate support for the railroad in statements, letters, emails, etc., to the Governors office.  Our most important supporter is Sen. Chesbro.

 

Kaye Strickland, Humboldt Co. Support Coalition (letter read by Doug Christy)

Kaye’s letter was written to the CTC, in support of the NCRA.

 

G.              CONDUCT OF BUSINESS

Items 1 & 2 are a backdrop for the CTC presentation.

 

1.            Review of Draft CTC Presentation for January 23, 2003

High-level summary included in the packet to the CTC.  The Power Point Presentation was reviewed with the Board of Directors.

 

2.            Past Reports

                                                             a.         Draft Economic Impact Study of NWP (PB Ports & Marine 9/02)

                                                            b.         Abandonment Report

                                                             c.         25 Reasons for NWP Survival (1/5/99)

                                                            d.         Its Your Railroad Too (2/17/98)

                                                             e.         Overview of NWP (10/1/97)

 

3.            Funding Workshop – Interdependence of TCRP Funds with the Following:

                                                            a.         State and Regional Economic Impact

PB Ports & Marine Study quantified impacts; a full report will be available in February 2003.  Potential Impact: Long-term economic impact outweighs short-term funding required to re-open rail line.

 

                                                            b.         Private Sector Investors

Outside capital is dependent upon current and future public support; NCRA is dependent upon revenue from the resumption of train service.  Potential Impact: Private investor funding is minimized and future public funding sources must be realized for the rail line to operate. NCRA is in a negative cash flow position within the next 2 years.

 

 

 

Public Comment on workshop thus far:

Crisis situation; questions regarding private sector monies, royalties, lease property to private sector; out of state trucks being used, when Railroad comes in we will lose the out of state trucking and local trucks will be used more; comparing this project with highway dollars; trickle down effect of economic dollars, in Colorado a Shortline brings in around $42,000,000; Operation from private sector: Operator will be the same using private money.  NWPY will be answering to NCRA and Private Sector.

 

Adjourn for 10-minute break at 11:50 am

Reconvened at 12:00 pm

 

 

                                                             c.         Federal and Local Funds

$8.4M of FEMA.OES funds potentially jeopardized; $8.6M of ISTEA funds require 17% match now available in TCRP; $1.7M in Humboldt and Mendocino STIP; Future local funds for railroad-related projects are not likely.  Potential Impact: The FEMA/OES funds have been reprogrammed to start the environmental process that will lead to future rehabilitation dollars now available in TCRP.  The ISTEA funds are also available for rehabilitation work once the environmental process permits, and also require a 17% match now available in TCRP.  If TCRP funds are not available, this current path could dramatically change.  If NCRA funds are cut, future STIP funds will certainly follow.

 

Loretta Ellard, MCOG

STIP funds have been programmed (T3 funds) for future Federal Transportation funds.  Loretta is getting the facts together and it will depend upon the NCRA’s strategy.

 

                                                            d.         SMART II Passenger Initiative

SMART is currently funded through TCRP; Approximately 60 miles of NWP trackage could be upgraded and maintained through this initiative; NWP could receive operating revenue from the movement of passenger trains.  Potential Impact: If SMART II is not successful, it will have a direct economic and political impact on future NWP operations.

 

Loren Williams

Sonoma County supports the railroad.

 

                                                            e.         California Western Railroad (CWR) Reorganization

Original legislation calls for the preservation of regional rail and passenger service which could include the CWR; The CWR interchanges freight and passenger traffic with the NWP at Willits; CWR alleges that a non-operational NWP impacted their profitability, ultimately leading to their bankruptcy.  Potential Impact: An insolvent CWR would mean loss of future freight and passenger traffic to the NWP.  Also, there would be a direct negative economic impact to the economies of both Willits (NWP and CWR) and Ft. Bragg (CWR only) if either rail line did not operate.

                                                              f.         Port of Humboldt Bay

Creating a deep-water terminal at Humboldt Bay makes them competitive with other west coast ports for Pacific Rim traffic; The Port directly connecting to a national rail system is a logistical necessity for inland movements.  Potential Impact: A non-operating railroad could negatively impact the competitiveness of the Port with other west coast ports.  All this will be quantified in the February 13th release of PB Ports & Marine’s Harbor Revitalization Plan.

 

Board of Director’s comments:

Regarding the Private Sector commitment we need specific language; Timing is important and the NCRA needs to be willing to accept cutbacks; if Private Sector backs out we won’t have matching funds for ISTEA, we will have to accept cutbacks, hold off on using TCRP funds for awhile; request that the Private Sector include a dollar amount range that they are willing to fund.  The NWPY Operator will meet with the investor.

 

                                                            g.         Cost to Decommission Railroad

Railroad is both a 3rd party and environmental liability if non-operational; Environmental clean-up and remediation must move forward; Eel River and Russian River embankments will need stabilized; Much of physical infrastructure will need removed to avoid accidents/injury.  Potential Impact: The cost of decommissioning the railroad could greatly exceed the current funding available, and most likely, future funding needed to rehabilitate and operate the railroad.

 

4.            Strategy Session

Executive Director Christy received a clear message in the direction he needs to go with the CTC Presentation.

 

Caltrans will check into the time frame on TCRP funds and if the allocation to the recipient is guaranteed. 

 

H.              STAFF REPORTS

 

1.            Executive Director Douglas M. Christy

We officially moved our office to Ukiah.  Everyone will be notified of new physical/ mailing address and email address.

 

2.            General Counsel Christopher J. Neary

Nothing to report.

 

I.                 MATTERS FROM BOARD MEMBERS

Director Hemphill recommends recognition for Max Bridges at the next Board meeting.  Directors Hemphill and Ripple will handle the coordination.

 

Director Sears: We have a building in Eureka that we want to lease, there is a realtor working on this; Marcus Brown repaired the leaking roof of the Eureka building.  It will need replacement sometime soon.

 

Adjourned for closed session at 1:20 pm

J.                CLOSED SESSION  

 

Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation

                                                             a.         Government Code Section 54956.9 (a)

                                                            b.         Mass Electric vs. Rail-Ways et al, Mendocino Superior Court Case # 85230

 

Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation

                                                             c.         Significant Exposure to Litigation

                                                            d.         Government Code Section 54956.9 (b)

Reconvened at 2:55 pm

K.              ANNOUNCEMENT OF ACTION TAKEN IN CLOSED SESSION

 

The Board met with Legal Counsel and provided direction concerning Government Code Section 54956.9 (a) and Mass Electric vs. Rail-Ways.

 

Anticipated Litigation: The Board met with Legal Counsel and provided direction.

 

L.               ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEXT MEETING ­

 

Regular Board Meeting – February 19, 2003 10:00 am (PST)

Arcata City Council Chambers, 736 F Street, Arcata, Humboldt County, CA

 

M.            ADJOURNMENT at 2:56 pm