Wow. What a somber group today. Kaye Strickland started out the meeting chastising the Higgins and Quilez campaigns for not going to North Coast Rail Authority (NCRA) or Harbor Commission meetings. What this had to do with opening the meeting I had no idea.
Marcus Brown from the Timber Heritage Association The Timber Heritage Association AMRR#101 was to present his ideas of Rails and Trails. He made it sound like Higgins wants to tear the tracks immediately for trail access. He wants to see a designated National Heritage Area created with automobile and tourist train excursions. We needed an Anchor Attraction. He said his interaction with Cal Trans turned up a brewing fight with trails supporters. He said the trails people option of choices was “Bull Shit.” Then Marcus meandered to an idea of his to put rails/trails idea with incorporation of taking the trouble point of not enough room for both along 101 along the Eucalyptus trees by having the trail move to the Eastside of 101. He said the uplands near Harper Ford were sufficient for trail access. Good ideas, but there needs to be constructive dialogue. Marcus then went on a tangent about trail advocate consultants giving misleading facts of volume of users of the proposed trails. Said the Maximum Volume usage numbers are misleading.
Concerning the current state of rail, Marcus said the rail needs money focused on the Environment. He made vague accusations of the NCRA “coloring” the money and mis-allocating? Got me. I am out of the loop he was generally voicing. Marcus made a great point of dollar value of rail. If you haul a ton of material by truck a gallon of fuel will take you 12 miles. You can take a ton of material by rail a gallon of fuel will go 400 miles. Good argument for train and rail.
The Citizens for Port Development group is becoming fractured. Bill Bertain said that he was concerned that people at the meeting were pro-trail and anti-rail. But he did not identify those involved. Public comment was leaning forward about the working class and the PL workers and then Bertain attacked Palco working practices and this meeting lost all viability. Pro worker Palco people talked smack back.
Mel Mckinney brought up the fact that FEMA made a report in 1998 that the cost for rail to be connected to the south rail would be 642 million! And he explained that the Harbor District has not recognized Mike Wilson’s many motions and that Ronnie Pelligrini has told Mike to enjoy his term, because they will get rid of him afterward. He said we need to have open ideas and open dialogue.
I have been going to these meetings for years. I have not witnessed such a fractured group as I witnessed today. There needs to open communication and no political mud slinging. I would like to see Rails and Trails done in cooperation. Can we agree with the concept?