NORTH COAST RAILROAD AUTHORITY (NCRA)

BOARD OF DIRECTORS REGULAR MEETING

 

 Wednesday, Nov 17, 2004   10:00 AM

Fortuna City Council Chambers

  Humboldt County

 

 MINUTES

 

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; Ellinger, Ripple, Ollivier, Simonson, Hemphill, Chair John Woolley. Directors absent:  LaVallee. Also present: Executive Director Mitch Stogner, Legal Counsel Chris Neary, and Recording Secretary Dina Polkinghorne

 

C.                 AGENDA APPROVAL

 

ACTION: Upon motion of Director Simonson, 2nd by Director Ellinger, and carried (7-0) the board approved the agenda with the following addition;

Item F.2

Presentation by Mike O’Hearn of O’Hearn and Associates re: Samoa Pacific Group Application to the NCRA

Item G.2

Consideration of request to FEMA to extend deadline on closing of FEMA grant.

Item J.2

Addition of second case, Potential Exposure to Litigation

 

D.                CONSENT CALENDAR

1.            Approval of Minutes – 10-20-04 Regular Board Meeting

2.             Approval of Financial Statement – October 2004

 

ACTION

Upon motion by Director Ripple, 2nd by Director Hemphill, and carried (7-0), the Consent Calendar was approved as presented.

 

E.                 PUBLIC COMMENT

 

Kaye Strickland – Ms Strickland announced that a public meeting will be held this afternoon regarding the proposed Waterfront Drive Extension Project. She also reported that she has observed some businesses taking up tracks in Arcata. Her last comment was that the Rails to Trails project is coming up again locally – she (Ms Strickland) supports the project only if no tracks are removed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

F.             PRESENTATIONS

 

1                    Moss Bittner – Photographical Presentation of Railroad Right-Of-Way, Eel River

Canyon

 

Mr. Moss Bittner, a resident of Humboldt County, provided the board with a Power Point presentation of a recent trek he made along the right-of-way through the Eel River Canyon portion of the railroad. He walked for 42 miles from Dos Rios to Alderpoint and commented on the condition of the tracks and the railroad in general.

 

2.                  Samoa Pacific Group – Mike O’Hearn

 

Mike O’Hearn of Kelly O’Hearn and Associates spoke on behalf of his client, Samoa Pacific Group. He informed the Board that an application has been filed with the NCRA to install eight permanent crossings over the NCRA right-of-way. He requested to be on the agenda for informational purposes only, not looking for board action at this time. He explained that the entire project is being financed privately, that there are currently approximately 100 residents in Samoa, an additional 250 are anticipated by project completion. They will be installing new utilities and roads and that all will be private roads. He inquired about the future plans of the railroad. Chair Woolley stated that there are no plans to abandon the railroad whatsoever, especially in light of any Port of Humboldt Bay revitalization plans and any potential partnership with the Port of Oakland.

    

 

G.            CONDUCT OF BUSINESS

 

            1.            HCAOG Bike Path Plan – Spencer Clifton

 

Mr Clifton, the Executive Director of HCAOG, reported that at their last board meeting staff was directed to organize a local group effort to install a bike path from Arcata to Eureka along or near the railroad tracks. He explained that he is looking for an endorsement from the NCRA Board of the idea, in very general terms, so that he can pursue the plan further at the local level.

 

Director Hemphill stated that the NCRA has supported these projects in concept in the past and that any plan would have to come back to the Board for final approval.

 

Chair Woolley stated that as a local representative serving on the County Board of Supervisors, the installation of  a bike trail in the area was a good idea, but that safety and legal matters should be taken into consideration in any plan.

 

Director Simonson inquired how a bike plan would work where there are bridges along this stretch of track. Mr Clifton stated that caged walkways might provide the appropriate solution.

 

Marcus Brown stated that a tourist train plan, combined with a bike path has the most potential for T money – multi model projects are key when applying for T funds

 

Kaye Strickland stated that trails between Eureka and Arcata along or near the tracks would be much safer than what currently exists.

 

ACTION: Upon motion by Director Hemphill, 2nd by Director Ellinger, and carried (7-0), the board approved the HCAOG Bike Path Plan in concept, with final approval subject to a more detailed plan to be presented to the board at a future time.

 

            2.         Consideration of FEMA Grant Extension Request

 

Mr. Stogner stated that the NCRA has obtained the FEMA grant but due to the recent hurricanes there has been a delay in the distribution of these funds. Originally the grant was to be closed out by December 31, 2004. He requested the board approve his request to apply for an 8 month extension of project close out to August 30, 2005

 

ACTION:  Upon motion by Director Ripple, 2nd by Director LaVallee, and carried (7-0), the

Board directed staff to request an extension of the close-out date for the FEMA Alternate Project to August 31, 2005.

 

 

H.        STAFF REPORT

 

1.             Mitch Stogner, Executive Director

 

A)    Update FEMA/OES Grant

 

Executive Director Mitch Stogner stated that for the entire line to open, three funding sources will need to be procured; FEMA Alternate Project funding amounting to close to a$8 million, $8 million of ISTEA funds, and $42 million of already obligated TCRP funds which are currently suspended due to the state budget crisis. The first item has already been committed for the south end along with $5 million of the above-mentioned ISTEA funds for construction and $3million for environmental studies on the North End. He reiterated the NCRA’s commitment to opening up the entire line and recently stated as such at the last NCRA presentation to the CTC.

 

Director Ollivier stated the importance in the entire line opening in terms of any potential partnership between the Port of Humboldt and the Port of Oakland.

 

Director Hemphill congratulated Mr Stogner, Director Ripple and Chair Woolley for all their efforts in obtaining final approval for the FEMA Alternate Project funds.

 

B)     Ukiah Trespassing Issues

 

Mr. Stogner reported that there have been increased trespassing occurances on the NCRA right-of-way in Ukiah. In terms of enforcement, the issue is whether the right-of-way is considered to be privately owned or public and he and the NCRA general counsel are working on a solution. He also reported that a newly elected Ukiah City Council member, John McCowen, has taken a keen interest in this issue and has offered to help.

 

Chair Woolley asked that staff work on a new policy that would address these issues and to bring it back to the board at a later date for approval.       

 

2.                  Chris Neary, Legal Counsel

 

No Report

  

 

I.            MATTERS FROM BOARD MEMEBERS

Chair Woolley thanked Mr. Stogner and Director Ripple again for their efforts in the recent NCRA presentation to the CTC. He also thanked Caltrans District 1 and ex-congressman Doug Bosco… a railroad advocate who has been working on private investment of the railroad.

 

                                                           

J.            CLOSED SESSION

                                                                The board convened into closed session at 11:18 am

 

                1.                Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation pursuant to Government Code Section                                   54956.9 (a) (one case –NCRA vs. Mass Electric)

 

                2.                Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Exposure to Litigation pursuant to Government Code                                                 Section 54956.9 (b) (one case)

 

 

The board reconvened into open session at 12:25 pm

 

K.             ANNOUNCMENT OUT OF CLOSED SESSION

 

            Mr. Neary announced that the Board received information and gave direction.

 

L.               ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEXT MEETING

            December 15, 2004

            Healdsburg City Council Chambers

            401 Grove St.

            Healdsburg, Sonoma County

                       

M.                ADJOURNMENT

                                                       

                Chair Woolley called the meeting adjourned at 12:27 pm.