Minutes

 

NORTH COAST RAILROAD AUTHORITY (NCRA)

BOARD OF DIRECTORS REGULAR MEETING

 

 Wednesday, December 17th, 2003   10:00 AM

Healdsburg City Council Chambers

401 Grove Street, Healdsburg, California  

 

A.                 CALL TO ORDER

Chair Woolley called the meeting to order at 10:03 am.

 

B.                 ROLL CALL

The roll was called with the following members present: Directors Burton, Hemphill, Ripple, Sears, Simonson, Campbell and Chair Woolley. Also present were Executive Director Mitch Stogner, General Counsel Chris Neary, and Recording Secretary Dina Polkinghorne.

 

C.             CONSENT CALENDAR

1.             Approval of Minutes - 06/04/2003 Finance Committee Meeting

2.             Approval of Minutes – 07/23/2003 Executive Committee Meeting

3.             Acceptance of Financial Reports

Item 1 and 3 removed for discussion

 

ACTION - Upon motion by Director Sears, 2nd by Director Ripple, and carried (7-0) Consent Calendar Item 2 was accepted as presented.

                               

ACTION Upon motion by Director Campbell, 2nd by Director Simonson, and carried (7-0) Consent Calendar Item 1 was accepted with the following change: Under Property Committee Report change the wording to reflect that it was suggested that the City of Ukiah present the Committee with how they might best develop the site under consideration.    

 

ACTION Upon motion by Director Campbell, 2nd by Director Sears, and carried (7-0) Consent Calendar Item 3 was approved. 

 

D.                AGENDA APPROVAL

Mr. Neary requested that an item be added to closed session, potential litigation.

 

ACTION – Upon motion by Director Ripple, 2nd by Director Simonson, and carried (7-0) the agenda was approved with the addition of an additional closed session item.

 

E.            PUBLIC COMMENT

Mike Pechner On behalf of Mr. James Quinn, Mr Pechner asked if the NCRA was pursuing funding through Congressman Thompson’s office, Senator Feinstein’s and Senator Boxer’s offices as well. Mr. Stogner stated that he had been in contact with all three of the offices.

 

Mr. Pechner stated that in light of the upcoming FEMA Alternate Project and the anticipated opening on the south end, it might be appropriate for the NCRA to promote passenger service in addition to freight service. He further stated that not only would it be an added revenue source, but that when the FRA shut down the railroad in 1997, there were 10,000 reservations in hand. In addition, Mr. Pechner stated that freight service will initially have a negative cash flow, while passenger service would have a positive cash flow from the start of operations.

 

Mr Pechner stated that the NCRA Agenda’s are “lackluster” and that perhaps this is why the NCRA does not get more press coverage. Chair Woolley responded that many issues with the NCRA are currently in negotiation and that there are more things to come on future agenda’s. 

 

Mr. Pechner urged the board to write a letter of support to the new owners of the California Western Railroad.

 

(Due to scheduling matters, Items F and G [closed session] were placed behind Item K [staff reports] on the agenda.) 

 

H.             CONDUCT OF BUSINESS

1.                   Approve Board Meeting Schedule for 2004

 

ACTION Upon motion by Director Burton, 2nd by Director Sears, and carried (7-0) the 2004 NCRA Board Meeting Schedule was approved as presented.

         

I.             SMART II MOU UPDATE Chris Neary

By way of background information, Mr. Neary stated that the NCRA is a member of the NWPRA, which anticipates that it will dissolve and transfer the corridor to SMART.  The negotiations are currently underway but after the last dissolution meeting between the parties, of which some NCRA members were present and a consensus was reached, some additional issues for negotiation came up. One item is the issue of future damages, specifically future liabilities and the other item was the negotiation of pending invoices issued to the NCRA from NWPRA. 

 

Mr. Neary is confident that these issues will be resolved by the next board meeting.

 

J.                COMMITTEE REPORTS

1.                 Finance – Dir. Burton - none

2.                Property – Dir. Simonson - none

3.                Passenger – Dir. Hemphill - none

               

K.       STAFF REPORT

1.                 Executive Director Mitch Stogner

 

A) FEMA Alternate Project Update

 

Mr. Stogner stated that the public comment period for the Generic Environmental Assessment was extended by FEMA from December 5th to December 22nd to accommodate the Attorney General’s desire to provide comments on behalf of the Consent Decree agencies. Mr Stogner reported that Caltrans also said that they might provide comments to address their concerns that ISTEA funds may be used on the south end of the railroad. Mr. Stogner had a lengthy discussion with Caltrans District 1 representatives and explained that the reopening of the south end does not contemplate ISTEA funds, only FEMA funds.

 

Mr. Stogner stated that all the comments received to date have been positive and he thanked Kaye Strickland from Humboldt County, Hannah Burkhardt from Mendocino County and Mike Pechner from Sonoma County for their contributions to the comments.

 

B) Caltrans Workshop

 

Mr. Stogner reported that in November there was a consensus of the board to schedule a workshop with Caltrans, NCRA, legislative staff, the Cogs, and various other interested parties, for the purpose of discussing funding issues. In order for the NCRA to access designated federal and state funding resources, several conditions must first be met. After consulting with Chair Woolley and Caltrans District 1, and CTC staff it was determined that a workshop should be scheduled for January in Humboldt County.

 

There was a brief discussion regarding the logistics of the workshop and which members needed to attend. There was a consensus to appoint Chair Woolley to work with staff to come up with a format for the meeting. Chair Woolley suggested that each of the three counties be represented at the workshop.

 

C) Environmental Consent Decree Update

 

Mr. Stogner gave a brief background on the history of the Consent Decree. He then reported that Task Order #4 of the decree is nearing the deadline but there is not enough construction money left to clean the 9 sites. The NCRA has requested to the Attorney General’s office that four of the 9 sites; Eureka, Island Mountain, Willits rail yard and Alder Point, be cleaned up with the remaining monies. There is a conference call scheduled on December 22nd with the Attorney General’s representatives, Caltrans District 1 and NCRA staff to come up with a satisfactory compromise. If no compromise can be met, the issue will have to go before the CTC and there are some scheduling restraints that would delay the clean-up schedule.

 

Mort August of Willdan provided a status report on Task Order #4. 

 

Mr. Neary pointed out that the NCRA only has a surface easement at the Willits rail yard. The Environmental Consent Decree project is related to cleaning up the surface; barrels, oils in containers in various places throughout the yard, etc. Once that occurs, the NCRA’s responsibility for environmental clean up, under the consent decree, will be complete. 

 

Mr. Campbell inquired as to why the NCRA would have to go back to the CTC to modify the scope of work laid out in the consent decree.  Mr. Stogner explained that under TCRP allocations, any modifications, in a substantive way, to the scope of work require CTC approval. Mr. Campbell then asked why the NCRA would change the scope? Mr. Neary stated that Caltrans has suggested that perhaps this is a change in the scope, not the CTC, and that it is not a change in scope at all, but a rephasing.

 

2.                 Legal Counsel Christopher Neary

 

A)     Mr. Neary reported that at the October board meeting in Fortuna, the reassignment of the prime contract for on-call engineering was approved. After the meeting, Caltrans District 1 communicated to the NCRA that they were not satisfied with the process involved with the reassignment and that this may eventually become an audit issue. Mr. Neary then stated that at the next meeting there would be a strategy presented to the board for dealing with this issue, perhaps a Declaratory Relief Decree.

 

He stated his frustration with the fact that since the reassignment issue was before the board, two meetings went by with no comments from District 1. Mr. Hemphill stated that it was more than two months, that this came before the board in June and that a District 1 staff person was at every meeting since then. Mr. Neary reported that he recently met with the previous Executive Director, Doug Christy, and they went over the informal suggestions provided to him by District 1 staff on the issue. Mr. Neary is confident that the NCRA followed their informal advice.

 

B)   Mr. Neary reported that next month the board will have two items before them for consideration: a 

        quitclaim deed with Arcata Recycling and Title transfer from NWPRA to SMART.

 

 

Chair Woolley went off the agenda and presented outgoing board member, Budge Campbell, with a plaque in recognition of his service and dedication to the NCRA.

 

                                                                                                The board adjourned to closed session at 11:20

F.             CLOSED SESSION

1.       Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation

         Anticipated litigation pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9 (b) (one case)

 

2.                   Conference with Real Property Negotiator

 Property Location: Ukiah Depot Parcel, adjacent to south side of Gibson Creek 

 Negotiating Parties: City of Ukiah and NCRA

 Under negotiation: Price and Terms, pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9

               

3.                   Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

Potential litigation pursuant to Government Code Section 54596.9 (one case)

 

                                                                        The board reconvened into open session at 12:45 pm

 

G.             ANNOUNCEMENT OUT OF CLOSED SESSION

 

ACTION – With a vote of 6-1, the Board directed Legal Counsel to extend the Standstill Agreement to February 29th, 2003.

 

L.          MATTERS FROM THE BOARD

          Director Burton announced that there are three remaining bidders for the California Western Railroad and

                that all three were capable of running the railroad successfully.

                       

M.               ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEXT MEETING

            Chair Woolley announced that the next regular board meeting is scheduled for January 21st in Willits at

                the City Council Chambers, 111 East Commercial Street, at 10:00 am.

 

N.            ADJOURNMENT -  12:50 PM