Despite being moved from the Canaveral Port Authority's normal meeting space and being scheduled during normal business hours, it looks like a good turnout has made its way to Cruise Terminal 1. There are quite a few suits here, as it is the annual budget meeting for CPA. But there are also quite a few yellow shirts and casually dressed residents on hand to help voice their opinion on the CPA's embattled plan to build a 6,000-foot earthen-berm causeway across a National Wildlife Refuge and federally-managed manatee refuge.
First takeaway: The movement of the meeting was intended to minimize the presence of concerned citizens and opponents of the rail plan; the meeting facility at Cruise Terminal 1 is large enough to hold a small trade show and is reminiscent of those massive no-man's land hallways in some of Vegas' larger casinos.
Capt. Alex Gorichky, founder of the No Fill, No Kill movement is expected to introduce an alternative rail plan for Port Canaveral, one that he says is a "common sense approach" that allows the CPA and its elected commissioners to enjoy in the experience of commercial cargo rail coming to Brevard.
We're here at the meeting, wading through mounds of numbers and stale Power Point presentations. Interestingly, there was a shortfall in cargo revenue this year of nearly $3 million dollars. Apparently that sector isn't thriving as they thought it would. This shortfall would seem to dovetail well with the CPA's plan. I can see that they would like to make the point that without rail, cargo will never take off here.
It's also interesting that cruise passengers — a continuing burgeoning source of revenue for the port — made up for that shortfall. Perhaps they should focus more on cruise operations and that would be money better spent than "investing in America" and hewing a commercial railway through environmentally sensitive wetlands and federally-managed sanctuaries.
Stay tuned. We'll bring you more as this story unfolds.