Went to todays “Special Meeting” of the Eureka City Council about sending a resolution to Cal Trans and apply for a grant in the amount of $295,000 for an east/west rail feasibility study. City of Eureka Consultant David Hull gave a presentation to the Council and said they were under a time crunch and needed to file the necessary paperwork by a April 2nd deadline. City staff was contributing $17,500 as a cash support or “match” for their time provided. Newly formed Organization Land Bridge Alliance would be kicking in $35,000 as a matchinf fund themselves. David felt a “Privately” financed only would fail with garnering permits in the future and that is why “Public” funding was being solicited.
Councilperson Linda Atkins wanted to know why there was such an emergency for this funding and felt it was inappropriate to call a special meeting on “Good Friday.” She felt there was a need for more public input and pointed out the funding would not be available until 2014 anyways.
The Public was invited to speak after other councilmembers spoke briefly of their support to the resolution:
Loraine Parnell- Why the special meeting? Was the Consultant to blame for short notice?
Pete Oringer- Member of the Timber Heritage Association and Land Bridge Alliance felt it was proper to apply for Public Grants to “augment” and “foster” the process and that it would give the project an advantage with environmental issues.
Jessica Hall- Baykeeper’s representative had some concerns about the concept. She was questioning what Eureka’s role in the project and what the ramifications the city may face.
Susana Munzell- Member of the Land Bridge Alliance and Chair of the Humboldt Bay Harbor Working Group spoke in favor of the study.
Debbie Provolt- Pointed out the constraints of transportation, and the “Freight in, freight out” disadvantage that drives goods prices up for Humboldt. Felt this was a great step forward.
John Grobey- Former HSU Economics Professor pointed out that he was assigned in the 80’s to look into this for the Army Corp of Engineers and came to the conclusion that linkages between the Port and Land made no sense without each other. His observation of the North/South after the closure of rail service led him to believe that continuing rail service in the that direction make no sense. Supports the East/West concept.
Sid Berg- Said it was long shot, but we needed to do something to keep workers local.
Dave Schneider- Dock owner. Pointed out the loss of hundreds of jobs around the bay. Blamed some of problem on regulation and some on transportation structure and bad goods movement.
Back to Council for deliberation:
Linda Atkins- Had problem with using Public funds for this project and felt the decision should be put off to a further date.
Marian Brady- Felt our weaknesses with “In and out” transportation halts prosperity and would support the project.
Melinda Ciarabellini- Was supporting resolution and didn’t want a “Missed Opportunity. “
Lance Madsen- (By remote) Wanted to see further harbor development. Supported Resolution.
Mike Newman- Eureka Mayor Pro Tem. “Baykeepers don’t want Harbor Development or more business! We need wages and jobs!” He pointed out that the short notice was not that important to him and said getting the “Rail Connect” committee together was a hard to do even once a month because of their geographic issues.
Linda Atkins- Closed council discussion by saying she had problems with the calling for a “Special Meeting” and felt there was no emergency. She said she was all for business, but this project would be something for her Grandchildren or their grandkids to enjoy. She publically said she was not against the rail or the project, but felt it should be privately funded and if they were going to use public funds there should be more time to discuss since the council never had discussed in the past “Using $300,000!”
The Resolution passed 4-1 Linda Atkins dissenting.