The second item on the conduct of business was possible approval of “Update to Policies and Procedures” for Fee Schedules. The fee schedules are for property owner’s costs to use the NCRA ROW to access their properties. This would be separate of Parallel’s scope of work. Some of the agreements date back to the 1920’s and are very minimal and some the NCRA has not received any compensation. Uses for the ROW’s by private owners and public agencies are negotiated on a case by case basis. Between Windsor and Willits there are 260 agreements. There was a question of what the market will bear or tolerate and whether we were current on the agreements. I asked for this item to be referred to the Property Committee to design a baseline standard boiler plate “Fee Schedule.”
The third item was concerning the sale of11 acres of excess property near the Ukiah train depot. We are trying to sell 4.5 acres of property to the state Administration Offices of the Courts (AOC) to build a new Mendocino County Courthouse. The project has now been whittled down to 3.7 acres. The actual liable entity for the clean-up of the site is Union Pacific, but it was determined the legal action to force them into clean-up would delay the process to non-existence. The clean-up costs are being paid by North Western Pacific Company (NWPco) and Cal Trans is has been promised the first 10% of the sale to reimburse funds for the original property acquisition. I asked the operator of NWPco what the threshold was for cleaning up the site. He said there was no threshold and would make sure the land is cleaned up. The site could be worth upwards of 10 million dollars. A presentation by the NCRA to the California Transportation Commission (CTC) will hopefully move the sale forward in the near future. Much of the proceeds from the sale will go to NWPco for payback debt incurred by the NCRA to the operator of the rail line.
Item four was a request for additional speeder event to the Apple Festival in Fortuna. Mayor Doug Strehl made the motion and I seconded and the motion passed.
NCRA Property Specialist Doug McCorkle reported on the failed TIGER grant for rail expansion. Out of 530 submitted applicants only 37 were awarded.
Operators Report: NWPco Operator John Williams announced that NWPco received the “Jake Safety Award” for short line rail. NWPco has been doing work for SMART south of Guerneville digging 42 inch trenches for conduit. He announced that all other SMART work has been curtailed until well into next year. NWPco has picked up more business in the grain industry, but lags in lumber. They are still operating at a loss according to the operator. The goal short term is expanding service to Cloverdale and then growing to Redwood Valley where the operator has identified substantial traffic base in the form of Lumber and aggregate. Mr. Williams said there is rumblings that SMART may try to expand to Healdsburg.
Mr. Williams would like to see an excursion train on the Northern end of the line. He felt the least expensive track to do this would be from Eureka to Fortuna. His second pick would be Samoa to Arcata. He would really like to see freight service around the bay but admitted he had not identified product.