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January 1998 General Meeting Minutes

January 1998 General Meeting Minutes



Washington Association of Rail Passengers

Board of Directors' Meeting

January 10, 1998, Tony Roma's, Seattle, Washington

Attendees

Executive Committee Members:

Jim Neal, Vice-Pres. East; Dennis Fait, Vice-Pres. West; Jim Hamre, Newsletter Editor; Hans Mueller, Treasurer; Ellen Barton, Secretary; Lloyd Flem, Executive Director.

Board of Directors:

Stuart Adams, Paul Scott, Rocky Shay, Steve Spear, Bill Weeks, Jim Holley, Mike Skehan, Tony Trifiletti, John Dewhirst, Dale Menchhofer, Eleanor Stewart Stephanie Weber Warren Yee, Noel Hancock, Jim Langston, Craig Thorpe, Rob Morrison, Robert Whalen

Members and Guests:

Ray Allred, Hal Cooper, Jim Holley, Shirley Waldo, Frank Waldo, Jerome Sheldon, Cheri Councill, Bob Laurence, George Benson, Christine Hill, Loren Herrigstad, Jim McIntosh, Kay Chelemedos, Lee Hess, Robert Rohrer, Leroy Chadwick, Dave Clinton, Robert Karmil, Mark Stoddard, Stan Suchan, John Deeter

Meeting Minutes

The meeting was called to order at 12:15 pm by Vice President West Dennis Fait. Welcoming the new members of WashARP's new Commuter Rail Section, in the coming he spoke of the challenges we look forward to facing in the coming year.

Election of Officers was conducted by Vice President East Jim Neal. Having ascertained in advance that the current officers were interested in continuing in office, Dennis Fait moved to nominate the officer candidates as currently held:

Chuck Mott, President; Dennis Fait, Vice President West; Jim Neal, Vice President East; Ellen Barton, Secretary; Hans Mueller, Treasurer; Jim Hamre, Newsletter Editor.

Noel Hancock then amended the motion to ask that the entire slate be voted on as a block. The amended motion was seconded by Paul Scott, and passed unanimously. The Officers deemed duly elected.

Appointment of At-Large Board of Directors as listed in the prepared hand-out on file, consisted of the following new members representing the Commuter Rail Section of WashARP:

Mike Skehan, Rob Morrison, Rob Whalen, and John Dewhirst.

The motion to appoint these members to the At-Large positions was made by Dennis Fait, seconded by Hans Mueller and unanimously passed.

Additional Board of Director positions exist for the Divisions outside of Puget Sound and for one At-Large position within Puget Sound, which positions may be appointed by the Board later in the year.

The agenda was approved with the addition of a report on the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee and an update on Alt-Trans' recent changes.

The meeting minutes for December were approved with one correction:

The Edmonds Museum (not station) has the display described.

The Treasurer's Report showed an increase in membership. Funds are higher than usual due to annual donations. Annual treasurer's report for 1997 shows WashARP's notable dependence on the annual donation-letter campaign

Upcoming meetings:

Excerpts from Executive Director's legislative report:

Regional meeting planned for legislators and the Transportation Commission. Proposed invitees include The Hen. Sen. Patty Murray, Rep. Jack Metcalf, Ed Barnes and Aubrey Davis.

Europe and Japan have made huge investments in rail: Japan alone has allocated $7 billion to construction of a Shinkansen (Bullet Train) line from Tokyo to Nagano.

Federal Employees are authorized to travel Amtrak for faster, cheaper and more efficient transportation on government work, an option previously unavailable when only air travel was sanctioned.

Appointments to the Amtrak Board are delayed. Possible candidates include Jack Martin (formerly of NARP). WashARP may work with Jennifer Dunn, capitalizing on her good working relationship with Gingrich, to encourage a healthy nomination.

Still important to educate legislators on the need for cent gas tax and for the need for ISTEA flexibility. Emphasize the rights of states to choose for themselves how to spend the ISTEA funds.

$10 million requested for King Street Station and coach yard. BN asks for $22 million to run the second train to Vancouver. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance alone is projected to cost $1.2 million. WSDOT suggests a second train set may be purchased with potentially-available federal funds.

Rail Trespass Law Reform will change the crime to a civil offense, similar in enforcement to a traffic ticket, saving time, money and increasing likelihood of enforcement.

Governor Locke supports rail however the gas tax may cause a political deadlock. The legislature will likely not support a gas tax despite the lowest gas tax rate in the world.

Assignments: Thank Gov.. Locke for his budget support. Push the cooperative effort success story of Renfre-Talgo/BNSF/Federal Transportation/Amtrak/WSDOT with legislators and the public. Thank the AAA (American Automobile Association) for favorable press and support for Amtrak and rail investments.

Washington DOT's Ken Uznanski "single handedly" turned around federal safety regulations through thorough investigation and documentation of technical procedures, demonstrating that the tilt-train safety at higher speeds actually meets existing regulations. This work cuts a multi-year process to a few months.

Ray Allred of WSDOT's Rail Freight Office reiterated the success of the Grain Train and announced the office's intention to purchase additional cars. The Ballard Terminal is in the process of accepting bids for rehabilitation. BN (Burlington Northern) has shut down, for safety reasons, the Natchez (sp?) line which has been in continuous operation since it was built in 1906. The line may be donated to the state after appraisal.

Friends of King Street Station is a foundation chaired by Christine Hill, recently incorporated as a non-profit group with the mission of raising funds and public awareness and support for the renovation of the historic building. A challenge grant of $30,000 has been awarded to begin the process of fund-raising which will extend not just to large corporate donors but to individuals. The station is the "diamond pendant" on the string of pearls which is the Northwest rail system and as such represents a valuable center piece for all citizens in the state.

Stan Suchan of WSDOT's Rail office presented an overview of the King Street station rehabilitation and renovation, following up on the tour offered earlier in the day to interested WashARP members. Key points are: the renovated building is projected to operate without a subsidy at the 20 year point if not sooner; funding is expected to come from a variety of public and private sources; Community in-put and open-house planning sessions are expected to start in February; questions remain on issues of parking, taxi and bus access. WashARP members are encouraged to educate others about Amtrak's viability during 24 months of "entrepreneurial overhaul," and to alert the public to the need for a large investment in regional transportation: will Oregon, for example, participate by investing? A potential role for WashARP could exist as a neutral "broker" of deals between parties to be sure all are served by agreements.

Vice President - Commuter Rail, Mike Skehan, introduced himself as a former transportation professional with years of experience working with the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as some military service. Under his direction, the Commuter Rail section will meet monthly to plan and carry out an action strategy for the promotion of commuter rail alternatives among the public and with legislators. Plans are underway to seek grant funding for certain projects, details of which will be forthcoming at a future meeting.

Plans for an Eastern Region promotion meeting are underway with Noel Hancock taking the lead, and requesting assistance. The informational poster and text are in the first draft phase and will be useful at a variety of meeting and promotional events. Editorial and design assistance are welcome.

Announcements:

The Amtrak Seattle-Portland run on Friday, January 30 will be the "Jazz Train" featuring live jazz bands, on a trial basis. If customer response is favorable, the jazz train may become a regular feature.

Alt-Trans has undergone a significant leadership shift which has led WashARP's representative on that board, Hal Cooper, to question Alt-Trans' active commitment to non-car alternatives. Hal Cooper expects to report to the WashARP board on this matter next month.

The meeting adjourned at 3:45 pm.



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