The meeting started out with a presentation by North Western
Pacific Corporation (NWPco) president John Williams celebrating 3 years of successful
freight service. Above is the cake and cupcakes. They survived a Federal Railroad Administration sanction
emergency order and have been cleared to do business and are currently making a
profit! Good for them and the economy of
Sonoma and Marin counties! (As a side note, NWPco counsel Doug Bosco was on
hand to celebrate. I ran against the
former Congressman for the California 1st District Assembly seat vacated
by Dan Hauser in 1995. We both came up short to Virginia Strom- Martin. Doug
and I got to catch up a little, but I think we need to meet again at a good
Marin County Buffet.) There is still some bad blood between NWPco and Sonoma
Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART). Hope it does not end in litigation.
The first official order of business was discussion of possible
action for Windsor to Healdsburg Repairs. NWPco President John Williams stated
his goal to get rail service to either Cloverdale, Geyserville or at least to
Healdsburg. He proposed his company renovating the rail line 5.3 miles to
Healdsburg for 1.25 million. He wanted to start the project in September to
keep his workforce busy during some slack freight time. Work was targeted for
completion in 6 months to a year. The subject was referred to the Operator ad
hoc committee for clear scope of work and finances. Clearly the NWPco was
confident that we would find funds to repay, but the Board of Directors was not
so much. I asked Mr. Williams how long it would take to repair lines to
Cloverdale under optimum conditions and he said to complete that 15 mile
stretch would take about 2 years.
The next item was about amending an agreement we had with
NWPco over clean-up of our Ukiah properties. At first the clean-up was supposed
to take no more than $250,000. Then that threshold was raised to $450,000. Now
we were presented with a $571,170 bill! I had asked Mr. Williams publicly what
was the actual threshold he would dole out on our behalf to clean this property.
He said, “Whatever it takes!” So he has fronted close to $600,000. The theme is
pretty consistent. NWPco and the NCRA financial
survival is hooked at the hip.
Up next on the docket was discussion and possible action
regarding lease of Willits Cell Tower to Parallel Infrastructure. The Board
pretty much agreed that the compensation was inadequate and was sent back to
committee to reevaluate.
And the final conduct of business was the Possible Action of
a request for a Quitclaim of Right, title and interest to Charlotte Roush at
1141 Spear Avenue in Arcata. Here is the quick version. Lady wants easements
rights to her property that were once a rail spur. The rail has been long ago abandoned and no
physical evidence that it existed. In
1997 another person filed for the same and it was granted. We did the same with
the request to pay for administration of the process. We had paper work on this
land back to 1878 when Jasper Janes had a claim and had to pay $50 in “Gold
coins in hand!” For his rights to the
Cameron Renner finished the meeting by asking for some sort
of variance for his petroleum trucks to not have to do a complete stop on
unused railroad tracks. It was refereed to staff for more investigation.