NORTH COAST RAILROAD AUTHORITY (NCRA)

BOARD OF DIRECTORS REGULAR MEETING

 

Wednesday, January 19, 2005 10:00 AM

Willits City Council Chambers

111 Commercial Street, Willits, Mendocino County

 

 DRAFT MINUTES

 

 

A.        CALL TO ORDER

            Chair Woolley called the meeting to order at 10:02

 

B.        ROLL CALL

            The roll was called with the following members present; Ollivier, Ellinger, Hemphill,

                Simonson, Ripple, La Vallee, Chair Woolley. Executive Director Mitch Stogner, General

                Counsel Chris Neary, and Recording Secretary Dina Polkinghorne were also present.

 

C.            AGENDA APPROVAL

            Without objection, the agenda stood as approved.

 

D.            CONSENT CALENDAR

 

            1.                Approval of Minutes – December 2004

                2.                Approval of Financial Statements – December 2004

 

                ACTION: Upon motion by Director Ellinger, 2nd by Director Hemphill, and carried (7-0) the board

                approved the Consent Calendar as presented.            

 

E.            PUBLIC COMMENT

 

Peter Koch:  Mr. Koch asked the board if the state  fiscal problems, and the Federal deficit, are effecting railroad funding for the NCRA. and if the NCRA is looking into public/private funding.

 

Chair Woolley responded that yes, the NCRA is a public/private partnership but that the agency is currently very focused on the public component of funding. He further explained that state TCRP monies already obligated to the NCRA are suspended due to the budget crisis, but are not cut. The NCRA is looking at other private opportunities but that information is privileged at this time.

 

Mr. Stogner advised Mr. Koch that the NCRA Strategic Plan is on the website.

 

Director Ollivier commented that the Port of Humboldt is working with the Port of Oakland in regards to a possible partnership – the railroad would play a significant role in that partnership. He also reported that the Humboldt Bay Recreation and Harbor District recently hired a firm to take a more active role in those discussions on behalf of the Port of Humboldt. 

 

Ruth Rockefeller: Ms Rockefeller stated that as a docent for the Redwood Empire Railroad History Project, she recently reviewed a book entitled “Redwood Timber Industry”. She stated that there was a chapter regarding ship building in Humboldt Bay and was impressed by the large amount of shipbuilding that took place in the region. This led her to a discussion with the past CEO of the Humboldt Bay Recreation and Harbor District who reminded her that the “Port Authority has a mandate to build a better railroad”.

 

Chris Burkhart:  Mr. Burkhart stated that historically, work on the NWP hasn’t promoted usage and that the San Francisco cable cars are a good example of preservation and usability. In regards to the Haystack and Black Point Bridges, Mr. Burkhart suggested that someone could live in a trailer to keep a watch on the barge activity – he pointed out that this was the practice of the railroad until about 1972.

 

Mr Neary stated that it may be advisable to contact local residents near the bridges in regards to posting monitoring cameras.

               

 

F.            CONDUCT OF BUSINESS

               

                1.                Election of Officers; Chair, Vice Chair, Second Vice Chair

           

ACTION: Upon motion by Director Hemphill, 2nd by Director Ripple, and carried (6-0; Woolley abstaining) the board elected John Woolley as Chair of the NCRA.

 

ACTION:  Upon motion by Director Ollivier, 2nd by Director Hemphill, and carried (6-0; Ripple abstaining) the board elected Dave Ripple as Vice Chair of the NCRA.

 

ACTION:  Upon motion by Director Ollivier, 2nd by Director Ripple, and carried (6-0; Ellinger abstaining) the board elected Doug Ellinger as 2nd Vice Chair of the NCRA.

 

G.            STAFF REPORTS

           

            1.                Executive Director Mitch Stogner

 

A)                 Update – FEMA/OES Grant Final Scope-of-Work

 

Mr. Stogner reported that the Operator Committee has finalized the list of equipment and materials. The deadline was January 10th, 2005 and the NCRA is on a fast track to draw down the grant. All indications are that FEMA and OES are in approval of the list which includes $2 million for bridge repairs, $2 million for crossing signals, and $3 million for rail cars. Mr. Stogner pointed out that there is some flexibility in the substitution of equipment for the rail cars, and, $300,000 has been obligated for the on-call engineer to develop a scope of work and procurement schedule.

 

Director Ripple, Operator Committee Chair, stated that the committee looked at what was feasible in terms of deadlines and has also been working with the Coast Guard regarding environmental review.

 

Mr. Stogner, per Director Hemphill’s request, pointed out how this process fits in with the overall funding strategy of the railroad. Following the FEMA Grant, Mr. Stogner went over the next steps;

 

1)      Successful passage of the Federal Transportation Bill which includes a provision making NCRA the lead agency for $8.6 million of ISTEA funds, $5.6  for south end repairs and $3 million for environmental work North of Willits.

 

2)      Suspension lifted on $42 million of state TCRP funds.

 

 ACTION: Upon motion by Director Simonson, 2nd by Director Ellinger, and carried (7-0) the board ratified the list as presented.

                 

B)                  Letter from Mayors to Sen. Chesbro & Assemblymember Berg

Mr. Stogner reported that if the Federal Transportation legislation is enacted there is a provision written in it that will forgive the Q Fund loan of $12 million. He further reported that State Sen. Chesbro will introduce legislation to reallocate the $5.5 million set aside to repay the Q Fund loan: $3.5 million to the Environmental Consent Decree and $2 million to NCRA. To help facilitate this action, several mayors that represent cities up and down the NWP line have been contacted to sign a letter to Senator Chesbro urging support for this legislation. The board directed staff to work with an ad hoc committee made up of Director Ellinger and LaVallee on this effort.

 

 

C)                  Update – Legislation to Reallocate Q- Fund

 

Mr. Stogner had nothing further to report.

 

2.                   Legal Counsel Chris Neary                

 

A)                Update – Policies & Procedure Manual                                                                                           

Mr. Neary reported that a draft version of an integrated manual will be presented to the board at the Feb meeting for review, and that it would be on the March agenda for adoption. This is one of the last items on the Caltrans/CTC matrix of requirements to be met, in order for state funding to be released to the NCRA. He further reported that he and NCRA Staff met recently with Caltrans District 1 staff for the purposes of finalizing the manual.

 

Chair Woolley recommended that at the March meeting the board should schedule a workshop on the manual so that all the members are up to date.

 

Mr. Neary also reported that the Haystack Bridge has been severely vandalized and that the NCRA is working with SMART staff and volunteers to successfully get the lights back on.

 

 

H.            COMMITTEE REPORTS

 

1.                   Ad  Hoc Operator Committee – Director Ripple – NO REPORT

2.                   Ad Hoc Committee for Letter to Legislators – Director LaVallee – NO REPORT

 

 I.            MATTERS FROM THE BOARD

             

Director Ellinger asked if the Waste and Debris Project has been completed and if so, has a report been filed. Mr. Stogner answered yes to both questions.            

 

Director Ollivier provided an update on the Humboldt Bay Harbor and Recreation District’s recent activities. Oscar Larson and Associates have been retained by the District  to work on an agreement between the Port of Humboldt and the Port of Oakland.

 

Chair Woolley commented on the recent Power Point Presentation by Moss Bittner on the Eel River Canyon. The most important feature of the presentation was that the line is in much better shape than anyone realized. Director Ripple suggested that the presentation be put on the NCRA website.

 

Chair Woolley also asked that railbanking be put on next month’s meeting agenda.

                                                                                                                               

J.            CLOSED SESSION                                    The board convened into closed session at 11.23 am

                                             The board reconvened into open session at 1:40 pm

 

K.             ANNOUNCEMENT OUT OF CLOSED SESSION

 

1. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL-EXISTING LITIGATION

 

Michael H. Meyer vs. NCRA

Surface Transportation Board Docket # 34337

 

The board received information.

 

2. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL- EXISTING LITIGATION

 

NCRA vs. Jerico Products Inc. et al.

Sonoma Superior Court # 235961

 

The board directed counsel to refrain from seeking a prohibition of river traffic.

 

3. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL-ANTICIPATED LITIGATION

 

Initiation of litigation , two cases

Government Code Section 54956.9 (c)

 

The board received information

 

4. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL-ANTICIPATED LITIGATION

 

Significant Exposure to litigation

Government Code Section 54956.9 (b) one case

 

The board received information

 

 

5. CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATORS

 

Property: Crossing to land formerly owned by Louisiana Pacific near Cloverdale California

Agency Negotiator:  Rob Kranz through designee  Mitch Stogner

Negotiating Parties:  NCRA-Tyris Corp.

Under Negotiation:  Terms, Price

Government Code Section 54956.8

 

            The board gave instruction to staff        

 

L.               ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEXT MEETING

           

            February 16, 2005

                Fortuna City Council Chambers

                621 11th Street

Fortuna, Humboldt County

               

           

M.                ADJOURNMENT

 

            The Chair adjourned the meeting at 1:44 pm.