Mirror Pond and Downtown Redevelopment Concept

November 7, 2014

After several years of public engagement and technical exploration, the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee is proposing a concept for the future of Mirror Pond for public input. The concept detailed in this summary satisfies stakeholders who wish to retain Mirror Pond and those who wish to see a more free-flowing river with enhanced wildlife habitat. This concept, called the Mirror Pond and Downtown Redevelopment Concept also offers a vision for the renewal of a critical area in Bend’s downtown core, with opportunities for new parks, restaurants and mixed-use development. The concept will not increase taxes and would be funded and managed by a partnership between the City of Bend, Bend Park and Recreation District, PacfiCorp and the private sector.


  • Mirror Pond is a collector for sediment flowing through the Deschutes River, which backs up into the pond behind Newport Avenue Dam, owned by PacifiCorp. This sediment build-up, if left alone, would eventually create a wetland, picturesque views would be diminished and river recreation would be impacted.
  • The pond was last dredged in 1984 to remove sediment. In recent years, a need to address the sediment build-up became increasingly acute.
  • Stakeholders have been divided on the best way to address sediment build-up, leading to an extensive community-wide debate on the future of Mirror Pond.
  • Factors influencing the debate include:
    • The PacifiCorp-owned dam is 100 years old and no longer produces adequate power to justify continued corporate investment.
    • When dredging last occurred in 1984 there were fewer regulatory requirements. Today, regulatory requirements make dredging challenging and more costly.
    • The dam is in poor condition; repairs will be costly.
    • The land under the pond is owned by a family trust of one of the founding families of Bend. Two local citizens have an option to purchase the land in order to help shepherd a solution.
    • Neither the City of Bend nor the Park and Recreation District (BPRD) have ownership of the pond.
    • BPRD owns approximately 60% of land adjacent to Mirror Pond between Newport and Galveston Avenues.


  • The Mirror Pond Steering Committee was created to oversee the development of a series of scenarios to address the sediment build-up in Mirror Pond.
  • A Mirror Pond Technical Advisory committee provided scientific input and data from which to base the alternative scenarios.
  • Scientifically based illustrations were developed to depict the scenarios.
  • The scenarios were taken to the public for input.
  • Community meetings and on-line surveys resulted in input from over 4,000 people.
  • Community input indicated a division between those who preferred the river to flow in a more natural-like manner versus those who preferred the current look of the pond be maintained.
  • While respondent first choice interests were divided between keeping the pond and returning the river to a natural-like path, there was a second choice scenario that satisfied most respondents. It maintained the pond while improving wildlife habitat and providing fish passage.
  • Results also indicated seven community interests that were shared respondents, including:
    • Maintaining the historic character and picturesque appeal of Mirror Pond.
    • Maintaining or improving public spaces.
    • Enhancing natural habitat.
    • Providing fish passage.
    • Reducing the quantity of sediment deposited in the river/pond.
    • Reducing the frequency that the pond needs to be dredged.
    • Identifying funding with minimal burden on taxpayers.
  • Following extensive community input, the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee, made up of representatives from the City of Bend, Bend Park and Recreation District and citizens, was tasked with reviewing public input and working with PacifiCorp regarding the future of the dam and exploring possible solutions that would address shared community values. The Mirror Pond and Downtown Riverfront Redevelopment concept resulted from this work.


The Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee is proposing for community consideration a project that preserves Mirror Pond, allows for a more free-flowing river, creates wildlife habitat and will encourage dynamic riverfront mixed-use development in downtown Bend.

Concept Outcomes

  • PacifiCorp would divest from their power production interests at the site by relinquishing ownership of the dam and moving the substation to another Bend location. A sub-committee of the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee is currently in communication with PacifiCorp regarding this scenario.
  • PacifiCorp would gift the dam to a public entity (City and/or Park District) who would then oversee conversion of the dam into a water impoundment constructed as a series of pools and riffles in the river. This new impoundment would cause a rise in the river water level behind it, resulting in the preservation of Mirror Pond near its average historic level.
  • The new pools and riffles would provide fish passage where none exist today.
  • The banks along the river would be reshaped to help to reduce sediment buildup and enhance habitat.
  • Pacific Park, the two Mirror Pond parking lots, and PacifiCorp’s powerhouse, parking lot and substation would be repurposed into new mixed use development including public spaces, plazas, restaurants, small businesses, housing and public parking.
  • Private property owners in the area would see value in redevelopment as a means to enhance their investments and support the community’s economic vitality.
  • The Deschutes River Trail would wind through downtown Bend, connecting people to parks, schools and business.
  • A public-private partnership involving the City of Bend, Park District, PacifiCorp and private sector interests would lead and fund redevelopment.
    • The Park District’s role would include selling what is now Pacific Park and using the funds generated to create a new Pacific Park near what is now the substation, improving the Deschutes River Trail through Bend’s urban core, and creating new public places.
    • The City’s role would include encouraging development on what are now the two Mirror Pond parking lots, updating storm water systems, and building a new parking structure. Funds would be generated by a combination of proceeds from land sales/rent, the formation of an urban renewal district, and/or development fees.
    • PacifiCorp’s role would be to divest in the dam and substation.
    • Private development’s role would be to invest in new mixed use development, including retail, commercial/office and housing.


The Mirror Pond Ad Hoc committee is inviting the community to give input on the Mirror Pond and Downtown Redevelopment Concept. Should the concept receive widespread support, an independent consortium would be formed to oversee a development plan. The City and Park District would lead the elements of the project on public lands and make improvements to the dam and pond.


A public input period on the proposed concept will be open from November 2014 to January 2015. The public may offer input through the following opportunities:

  • www.mirrorpondbend.com
  • Public meetings – dates/locations TBD
  • Other outreach opportunities to be advertised through TV, radio, news and social media.

Illustration of the Mirror Pond and Downtown Redevelopment Concept
Mirror Pond / Downtown Concept

Mirror Pond / Downtown 2

Illustration of the Mirror Pond and Downtown Redevelopment Concept
Features include:

  • Buildings indicated in blue are envisioned for redevelopment along the river.
  • New public space exists where the dam and substation currently exist.
  • Conversion of the dam into an impoundment, constructed of a series of new pools and riffles that preserve Mirror Pond and provides fish passage.
  • The historic powerhouse is repurposed into a restaurant or other business.
  • Brooks Park is expanded, narrowing the river channel.
  • The Deschutes River Trail connects new development with downtown.
  • Public plazas and viewscapes maintain connection with the riverfront.
  • The banks along the river provide habitat for nature.

30,000 feet

Your opinion matters. Please go to the Mirror Pond website and share your perspective.  Go to www.mirrorpondbend.com

Please fill out the Mirror Pond Downtown and Redevelopment Concept questionnaire.

PDF: Mirror_Pond_and_Downtown_Redevelopment_Concept

Bend City Councilor is optimistic Mirror Pond deal can be reached

Bend City Councilor Mark Capell just met with the CEO of Pacific Power that owns the dam last week and is encouraged they will be able to work something out to satisfy most people.

“What we’re trying to do is come up with a public-private partnership of some sort to answer the question, the community is really divided on what to do with Mirror Pond — river or a pond. The one thing that people feel really strongly about is they don’t want to spend any money and with a public-private partnership we can accomplish that as well.”

Councilor Capell is part of the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc committee tasked with deciding what to do with Mirror Pond.

Capell expects to have designs for the public to look at and offer input on in the next couple weeks.

Source: KBND

A close look at Bend’s Mirror Pond dam

The committee looking into what should be done with Mirror Pond got an up-close look at the leaking dam there Wednesday, joining representatives of Pacifi­Corp on a tour of the more than 100-year-old facility.

The ad hoc committee, formed last fall, includes representatives from the city of Bend, the Bend Park & Recreation District and the general public. It will weigh in on the relative merits of dredging the pond, keeping the dam, which is owned by PacifiCorp, removing the dam and other alternatives.

The group’s tour came one day before a team of consultants hired by the park district is due to arrive in Bend to inspect the dam. PacifiCorp has been lowering the level of Mirror Pond in recent days to allow for a safe inspection, but water levels should be headed back up this weekend.

Jim Figurski, the head of the park district’s efforts on Mirror Pond-related matters, said the inspection should provide a better idea of what kind of maintenance costs the city or park district would have to bear if they were to acquire the dam from Pacifi­Corp. PacifiCorp has committed to repairing a hole that opened up in the dam last fall, dropping water levels to nearly 7 feet below seasonal normals, but is looking to divest itself of the dam as a generation facility.

“Part of the analysis is what would we need to do for a 50-year or more fix, not just a 10-year fix or a near-term fix,” Figurski said.

He expects the consultants will have a complete report for the committee by the end of the month.

On the back deck of the powerhouse, members of the tour group learned Wednesday how the gates at the base of the dam can be manipulated to control how much water flows out, allowing the dam operator to maintain Mirror Pond at a consistent elevation.

They peeked into buckets of bottles, cans and old tennis balls that are scattered across the dam property, all of them retrieved from the pond above the dam with the help of a long-handled net.

Descending a ladder to a wide lawn hemmed in by the dam on the upstream side and barbed wire on the downstream side, the group examined a now rarely used gate at the north edge of the spillway, where boards can be removed to discharge ice and debris into a crudely constructed rock and concrete sluice gate.

Water seeps through several points along the concrete dam face, nourishing thick cushions of moss sprouting from the stained walls, and as suggested by the footprints dotting the mud below, a handful of raccoons and other small animals that find their way through the fences.

Mark Tallman, vice president of renewable resources for PacifiCorp, said the seepage is a cosmetic problem more than a safety issue.

“The dam is just like a drafty house, it’s just old,” he said.

Visitors donned fireproof suits before venturing inside the powerhouse, where three large generating wheels sat idle Wednesday on account of the lowered water levels. When turning, the three generators can produce enough electricity to power 300 to 400 homes.

Tallman told tour members the powerhouse is still potentially dangerous even when the generators aren’t spinning due to a live power line running across the ceiling that — under the right circumstances — can throw off high-voltage arcs. The controls for the adjacent substation are also inside the powerhouse, Tallman said, cautioning the visitors to avoid touching any of the equipment.

“It is possible, if you accidentally touch or move the wrong handle, you could put Bend in the dark,” he said.

Scott Wallace, a member of the park district board and a member of the ad hoc committee, said he expects the behind-the-scenes tour will prove useful once the engineering report is complete. Until Wednesday, Wallace said he only had a hazy idea of what went on at the Mirror Pond dam.

“I grew up in Bend, and this is the closest I’ve ever come to the powerhouse,” he said.

City Councilor and committee member Victor Chudowsky said he was impressed by the architecture of the powerhouse. If the city or the park district acquires the dam someday, it would be ideal if the powerhouse could be preserved, he said, possibly as some kind of small museum where visitors could learn about how electricity is generated and about a notable piece of Bend history.

Chudowsky said the tour confirmed much of what he already knew — that the dam is old, and in places, starting to fail. Though its days as a power generation facility may be numbered, the dam may still be the easiest and least expensive way to preserve Mirror Pond into the future, he said.

“Really, what we need to be deciding is, is this an asset or a liability, then go from there,” Chudowsky said.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387, shammers@bendbulletin.com

Utility to fix Bend’s Mirror Pond dam

PacifiCorp announced on Tuesday that it will repair the leak in Mirror Pond dam in April, in time for people to enjoy higher water levels on the Deschutes River this summer.

One of the wooden panels in the dam began leaking in October, and since then, the water level has sunk, leaving visible the mud flats that have been building up in the Mirror Pond section of the river. The utility stopped generating power at the dam after it discovered the leak, and executives have been meeting with a Bend city councilor and the executive director of the Bend Park & Recreation District to discuss the possibility of transferring ownership of the dam to a government agency.

PacifiCorp plans to install a steel sheet piling upstream of the leaking panel, according to a news release from the utility.

Once the dam is repaired, PacifiCorp will again begin generating electricity at the dam, Mark Tallman, PacifiCorp’s vice president for renewable resources, said in the release.

Tallman also said it is possible Mirror Pond would have filled up anyway this summer, when more water will be released from Wickiup Reservoir.

In December, PacifiCorp spokesman Bob Gravely said it would not be cost effective to repair the dam because it produced a meager amount of electricity. On Tuesday, Gravely said utility executives decided to repair the dam for different reasons.

Gravely said PacifiCorp hopes that repairing the dam will make it easier for the utility and local officials to reach an agreement to transfer the dam to a local government agency. “We don’t intend to generate (electricity) long-term, so fixing one leak for that purpose wouldn’t make sense.”

Gravely said PacifiCorp estimates that fixing the leak will cost $250,000.

Park district Executive Director Don Horton recently called for PacifiCorp to repair the dam to prevent further damage to the structure and ensure the river will be safe for boaters and others recreating on the river this summer.

Regarding PacifiCorp’s announcement, Horton said, “It shows that PacifiCorp has been listening to the community’s needs and trying to do their part in this negotiation process that we’re going through, to figure out a long-term solution to Mirror Pond and the dam.”

PacifiCorp also met privately on Tuesday afternoon with City Councilor Mark Capell and Horton to continue negotiating a possible transfer of ownership of the dam. Capell and Horton are members of the Mirror Pond ad hoc committee tasked with deciding the future of the pond. They were joined in the negotiating session by Ned Dempsey, a citizen member of the committee. Dempsey is a civil engineer who owns a home across from Drake Park.

The committee is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. today to discuss a proposal from committee member and park board Chairman Scott Wallace to appoint Dempsey to the small group that is meeting with PacifiCorp. However, Horton said Tuesday that Wallace went ahead and appointed Dempsey without waiting for a public meeting.

Capell said that during the meeting Tuesday, Bend officials and PacifiCorp discussed proposals from firms that want to conduct an independent inspection of the dam on behalf of the park district. Capell had to leave the meeting during discussion of a proposal from HDR, a large engineering firm where Capell’s brother Paul Capell works. Capell has said PacifiCorp should repair the Mirror Pond dam and give it to the community, and on Tuesday, he said the announcement that the utility will repair the dam does not mean it will be worth more. “It’s not going to make them any money, for sure,” Capell said. Nonetheless, Capell said the utility’s decision to fix the leak is a positive development. “I thought that was an outstanding step forward by (PacifiCorp),” Capell said.

Mirror Pond will be back

Mirror Pond will make its return before the start of spring despite the leak in the dam that creates Bend’s iconic lake.

Considering the current dry weather and taking in account the current water levels at the Wickiup Reservoir, the Oregon Water Resource Department is expecting Wickiup to be full around March 10-20. This could change by a few weeks if the weather changes.

Local Watermaster Jeremy Giffin said he will likely open Wickiup around the first or second week of March to where the outflow of water equals the inflow (from the current 36 cubic feet/second up to around 600 CFS). This will increase the flow through Mirror Pond from around 450 CFS to over 1000 CFS. It is estimated that the pond should fill and spill over the dam at around 600 CFS.

Giffin said that he will be releasing roughly the same amount of water this summer as in years past. “For the peak part of the summer (June through August) the flow through Mirror Pond should range between 1300 and 1600 CFS, again depending on the type of weather we are having and the type of crops in North Unit Irrigation District,” he added.


In March, the flow through Mirror Pond will increase from around 450 CFS to over 1000 CFS.
In March, the flow through Mirror Pond will increase from around 450 CFS to over 1000 CFS.

Legislation to save Mirror Pond?

By Lauren Dake / The Bulletin

Being a former state senator, Bend-based attorney Neil Bryant understands lawmakers’ tendency to bristle at the thought of crafting a carve-out law aimed at narrowly helping an individual or entity. But when it comes to the century-old iconic Mirror Pond in Bend, he’s betting the Legislature would be receptive.

In November, Pacifi­Corp said the dam responsible for creating the pond is deteriorating. A large hole needs to be repaired and the company said it no longer makes financial sense to continue generating power using the dam.

City and park district officials recently said they would like to explore how to keep the pond intact. There are many issues to resolve, one of which is the ever-complicated matter of water rights.

And that’s where Bryant thinks lawmakers could come in.

Right now, the dam has water-storage rights associated with generating power.

The potential legislation would apply narrowly to Mirror Pond and allow a special water right for storage based on recreation and aesthetic purposes.

It’s one strategy.

“Hopefully, the Legislature would understand and say, ‘This is reasonable,’” Bryant said.

Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, said he’s certainly concerned Bend wouldn’t be the same without the pond.

“I think it’s important to the future of Bend to save Mirror Pond in the form I think we all know and love in that downtown area,” Knopp said. “And if a bill is needed and city leaders are in pretty general agreement that’s the direction they want to go, I would be happy to introduce a bill to save Mirror Pond.”

Bryant noted the legislation would help maintain the status quo as far as the water rights are concerned. The current water rights to store water are based on generating power and are non-consumptive, meaning the water goes back into the river.

“Whoever has the water right, it’s still non-consumptive, they aren’t taking the water to irrigate or for other purposes,” he said. “It’s to store water in the river. The physical water isn’t changing, you just need an expanded water right for recreation.”

Other ideas are being considered as well. For example, someone could transfer their water storage rights to Mirror Pond.

Jayson Bowerman, with the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance, said he’s hoping the city can move beyond the polarizing conversation of whether to keep the dam or return the river to its natural free-flowing state to create a more unique situation. There are ways to engineer a dam, he said, that would still allow for recreation and restore portions of the pond to its natural state.

“We’re looking for solutions … to bridge the interests of (those) who want to retain Mirror Pond and those who want to see the natural river. We want both,” he said.

Knute Buehler, a Republican who is running for House District 54, the seat being vacated by Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend, said he believes Mirror Pond is an icon of Bend and should be preserved. He’s open to ideas.

“Whenever you have a big transition point, there is always an opportunity to create something new. I think people should think out of the box,” he said.

Since the discussion is in its early stages, it’s impossible to know how the legislation would be drafted.

“If there is needed legislation (to preserve the pond) at the state level, I would be very interested in looking at that,” Buehler said.

Craig Wilhelm, the Democratic candidate for House District 54, said he’s looking forward to the process continuing at the city level before he weighs in.

“It’s just one of those things, it’s at the city level and as a legislator, I (would) have to listen to the constituents,” Wilhelm said.

Knopp acknowledged there are often unanticipated challenges to passing legislation.

“There is always going to be opposition, but the key is, the community of Bend is supportive of moving in the direction of saving Mirror Pond. … If we’re doing a specific bill to allow a water right fix and it’s not costing the state a lot of money, it’s more likely to gain traction with legislators,” he said.

“I think this is unique and has obviously been a characteristic of Bend for a long time,” Knopp said.

Source: The Bulletin 2013

Preserve the Pond?

After dancing around the issue for nearly two hours—and for years before Monday evening’s meeting inside the Bend Park & Recreation District office building—the Mirror Pond ad hoc committee casually called a vote: Should we keep Mirror Pond or not?

Suddenly, at least a few of the roughly 50 community members in attendance sat up straighter.

And in a snap, a unanimous decision was made. All eight of the ad hoc committee members present chose to preserve the pond. (Committee member Matt Shinderman was notably absent on Monday.) While ultimately not a final resolution, the vote seems to move the committee toward focusing all its attention on making the pond stick around.

The surprising move elicited at least one “boo!” from the back of the room, and even seemed to top last week’s dramatic revelations in the latest chapter of Bend’s most watched soap opera.

For those who took a brief Thanksgiving vacation, previously on “As The Dam Leaks”: last Monday, Pacific Power announced it was ready to offload the leaking, 103-year-old Newport Avenue dam—the very structure that creates Mirror Pond. That same day, two local businessmen stepped forward to explain that they have been brokering a deal to buy the land underneath the pond—and essentially, the pond itself—with the plans to preserve the city’s icon and famous pale ale namesake.

In this week’s episode, Monday’s ad hoc committee vote—coupled with the pending purchase of the mud beneath the pond—seems to have fully tipped the hand of the city’s power brokers: Keep the pond, even though public sentiment remains split.

That split wasn’t fully addressed at Monday night’s meeting. Early this year, an unscientific park district survey revealed that roughly 47 percent of residents want a free-flowing river, while nearly 43 percent prefer to keep the dam and with it, the pond.

But instead of serving as a closing chapter and settling the pond-or-river debate, the ad hoc committee’s decision on Monday simply raises more questions, such as who will pay for the dam which, after all, is necessary if a pond is to remain?

Acquiring the dam from Pacific Power and repairing and updating the more than a century-old structure will cost millions, the crowd was told on Monday. And there are other prickly issues, too, said a park district attorney: Transferring the water rights attached to the dam will be a complex process, and one without precedent. Yet, in spite of all the mounting legal and financial arguments, there was scant mention of returning the pond to a free flowing river and forcing Pacific Power to pay for the associated costs of dam removal and stream restoration.

“We do know that the damage to the dam is fairly significant,” said Park District Executive Director Don Horton. “My guess is that fish passage will be a requirement,” he added, referring to updates likely required, should Pacific Power sell or transfer ownership of the dam. “And we’ll need to find a way to transfer that [water] right to another use.”

Park district attorney Neil Bryant said that asking for a legislative exception to the state rule, mandated by the Oregon Water Resources Department, is likely the best option, but one that would need to wait until January 2015, the next full session in Salem. Other avenues, such as seeking a transfer of the water right, would likely draw protests from community members and conservation groups, Bryant noted.

Next to speak during Monday’s public meeting was Todd Taylor, CEO of heavy construction company Taylor Northwest and one of the two men to form Mirror Pond Solutions (the other is Bill Smith, developer of the Old Mill District). Taylor explained that he and Smith are prepared to purchase the 23.5 acres beneath Mirror Pond—from the Galveston Avenue bridge to the Newport Avenue bridge—for somewhere between $225,000 and $327,000. The amount would cover title research, mapping and testing of the sediment.

“This is not a profit center,” Taylor said. “We took it on because of our passion for this pond.”

City councilor and ad hoc committee member Mark Capell said he was similarly passionate about maintaining the pond, but worried that negotiating with Pacific Power over the dam would continue to be a sticking point.

“They want money,” he explained. “We want them to rebuild and give it to us. We’re a long way apart,” he added.

As a Hail Mary, Capell mentioned that perhaps a “small mom and pop” utility company would take over ownership of the dated dam and its power-generating facility, a move that could preserve the pond and address the water rights problem. Capell and Horton are scheduled to meet with Pacific Power again later in the week.

Following those comments, Horton made the call that eventually initiated a committee vote.

“We’re going to find a way to preserve the pond,” Horton declared. With somewhat Solomon wisdom, Horton went on to explain that both sides could be happy if, in addition to keeping the pond, fish and recreation passages were added to the dam as well as natural features along the banks, to better appease those who want a free-flowing river. Removing the dam, he said, would please only those who want a river, and likely alienate those who want to preserve the pond.

“There’s still a public process to go through,” Horton added, referring to the notion that, ultimately, there will be a public vote whether to preserve the pond. “I understand both sides.”

After the meeting, city councilor and ad hoc committee member Victor Chudowsky agreed, putting to rest, briefly, any fears of the committee steam-rolling ahead with its own agenda.

“There will be a vote,” Chudowsky promised.

Source: The Source Weekly 2013

Bend City Council votes to pursue Mirror Pond preservation

By Hillary Borrud / The Bulletin

The Bend City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to pursue the preservation of Mirror Pond.

That means the city and the Bend Park & Recreation District both support the goal of keeping the pond. On Tuesday night, the park district board voted to adopt a nearly identical resolution. And while city councilors voted to discuss the condition and future of Mirror Pond dam with its owner, PacifiCorp, the park district board voted to negotiate with the utility company.

The City Council and park district board decided to vote on the issue after the Mirror Pond ad hoc committee voted Monday to keep Mirror Pond and continue negotiations to obtain the dam from PacifiCorp, within “financial reason.”

City councilors emphasized that it is still unclear how exactly local governments will resolve the problem of silt building up in the pond, and voters will likely have an opportunity to vote on the issue because local governments would need to ask them for additional taxes to pay for the project.

A consultant for the park district and city estimated it would cost roughly $11 million to remove the dam and restore this section of the river.

Few people attended the City Council meeting to speak about Mirror Pond, but some who did criticized the city and park district for not doing enough to include the public in the decision. A consultant for the city and park district completed an unscientific survey, which showed respondents were nearly split on whether to keep the pond or return that section of the Deschutes River to a free-flowing river.

Residents Barb Campbell and Foster Fell arrived at the City Council meeting carrying boxes filled with bags of popcorn, and a message for city councilors.

“You paid 1-2 hundred thousand dollars for the illusion of public process,” Campbell and Fell had printed on the bags. “You should at least enjoy some popcorn with the show.”

Campbell and Fell handed out bags of popcorn to other people who attended the meeting.

“We have tea baggers. Now Bend, Oregon, has popcorn baggers,” said resident Wade Fagen during public comment.

City Councilor Mark Capell said he agreed with some of what Campbell said. “I think the flaw with the process that happened before (City Councilor Victor Chudowsky) and I got on the (Mirror Pond ad hoc committee), the flaw was asking people what they thought before we know the numbers,” Capell said, referring to the cost of options for Mirror Pond. “And that’s what we’re trying to do now, is get to the numbers and figure it out.”

Capell said he asked city and park district employees to research details of the potential cost to remove the dam, to give local officials more leverage to negotiate with PacifiCorp.

Chudowsky said he is more concerned about the importance of Mirror Pond as a recreation resource than as an icon of Bend.

“I am really concerned about canoeists, kayakers, people who float down the river in tubes and that sort of thing,” Chudowsky said. Based on statistics from Cascades East Transit, which provides bus service for people who float down the river in the summer, Chudowsky estimated approximately 1,000 people float down to Mirror Pond and then use the bus each week during the summer.

“We do have an opportunity to create something amazing here, and that should be our goal, where we create something for everyone,” City Councilor Doug Knight said.

Source: The Bulletin 2013

Keep Mirror Pond says Bend panel

By Hillary Borrud / The Bulletin

Public opinion might be split on the future of Mirror Pond, but the vote of committee members tasked with selecting a plan for the pond was unanimous on Monday: They want to keep the pond.

The Mirror Pond ad hoc committee voted Monday afternoon to continue negotiating with PacifiCorp to obtain ownership of the dam that created Mirror Pond, as long as that plan is financially feasible for the community. Officials from the city of Bend and Bend Park & Recreation District will draft a resolution based on the ad hoc committee’s decision.

The plan is for the park district board to vote on the resolution at a meeting tonight, and the City Council to vote on it during a Wednesday night meeting. Mirror Pond is a section of the Deschutes River.

PacifiCorp announced in late November that due to the deteriorating condition of the dam, it no longer makes financial sense for the company to continue operating the dam and hydropower plant. Local officials had been waiting for that decision because it is a major factor in how the community will deal with sediment that built up behind the dam.

Earlier this year, the ad hoc committee selected two of its members, City Councilor Mark Capell and park district Executive Director Don Horton, to meet behind closed doors with PacifiCorp about the future of the dam. On Monday, Capell and Horton said they needed to know whether the committee wants to keep Mirror Pond or remove the dam and return this section of the Deschutes River to its free-flowing state.

Capell urged the committee to tell PacifiCorp to seek other individuals or entities that might want to purchase the dam. Capell said he wants to preserve the pond but believes the utility company wants too much money for a broken dam. PacifiCorp representatives said in recent years that they wanted to wait for the community to weigh in on the future of Mirror Pond.

“I don’t really think they gave a rip about what we think or what we want,” Capell said Monday. “Some corporations have a public conscience, and some don’t. I think PacifiCorp, if you look at their priorities, their priorities are to their owners, stockholders, and somewhere down the road from there, their ratepayers. And as long as you know that going in, you know what you’re dealing with.”

Capell said he did not believe any other entities would want to operate the dam, and only a conservation group with very deep pockets could afford to buy the dam and remove it. A consultant for the park district estimated it would cost $11 million to remove the dam and restore that section of river, and that cost does not include a purchase price. Capell predicted PacifiCorp would eventually return to the negotiating table with local governments, and perhaps be closer to the deal Capell wants: for the utility to repair the dam and donate it to a local government.

Capell’s proposal worried two citizens who were recently appointed to the ad hoc committee. Mike Olin and Ned Dempsey said they were concerned that if local officials told PacifiCorp to seek other buyers, they could lose their chance to obtain the dam. “I think that’s a risky strategy,” said Dempsey, a civil engineer who owns property across from Drake Park. Other committee members agreed.

The ad hoc committee also heard from one of the two businessmen who recently announced they signed a contract for an option to purchase land under Mirror Pond. Todd Taylor, president and CEO of the construction company Taylor Northwest, and Bill Smith, developer of the Old Mill District, formed a company to negotiate the purchase of the land because they wanted to ensure a local government preserves the pond. Officials have said they need permission from the McKay family, which claims ownership of land under Mirror Pond, in order to dredge the pond. Meanwhile, Horton has said a public agency should own this land; if the dam was removed and water levels lowered, the park district could expand its riverfront parks.

“We didn’t take this endeavor on to capitalize on it,” Taylor told the ad hoc committee on Monday. However, Taylor said that under the purchase option he and Smith negotiated with the McKay family, it would cost a local government roughly $225,000 to $327,000 to acquire the 23.5 acres of land under the pond. Taylor said this cost includes land title research, mapping and testing of the sediment in the pond.

Officials also discussed how to obtain water rights necessary to maintain Mirror Pond, if a local government purchases the dam from PacifiCorp. The utility company holds water rights to generate power and remove ice and debris from the pond, but it does not hold rights to store water in a pond. Park district lawyer Neil Bryant said the best option for a local government to obtain water rights necessary to keep the dam would be to ask the state Legislature to pass a bill. If the legislation applied narrowly to Mirror Pond, “I think the governor and Legislature would be pretty receptive to this,” Bryant said.

At the end of the meeting, the Mirror Pond ad hoc committee heard public comments from a few people in the audience. Stan Roach, who lives in northeast Bend and also just bought property near the pond, asked how many people at the meeting lived on the east side of the city. The meeting was packed with dozens of people, but only a couple raised their hands.

“I think this has become a west-side issue, not a community issue,” Roach said after the meeting. “Of course, I would like to see some preservation of the pond, but not at a ridiculous amount of money.”

When the park district conducted an unscientific survey earlier this year, nearly 47 percent of survey respondents wanted to remove the Mirror Pond dam and roughly 43 percent wanted to keep the dam.

Capell said he has spoken with other city councilors, and they generally do not want the city to take on responsibility to pay for the dam and other work on Mirror Pond. Horton said the park district also might not have enough money to pay for such a project, unless it asks voters to approve additional taxes.

Source: The Bulletin 2013

Businessmen pick up option to buy land under Mirror Pond

By Hillary Borrud / The Bulletin

Over the last year, two powerful local businessmen discussed privately their frustration with the slow pace of planning for the future of Mirror Pond. Earlier this month, they took action.

Bill Smith, developer of the Old Mill District, and Todd Taylor, president and CEO of the construction company Taylor Northwest, said Monday they signed a contract Nov. 14 for an option to purchase the land under Mirror Pond from the McKay family. They plan to transfer the option to purchase the land to any local government entity that will purchase the land and preserve Mirror Pond. Smith and Taylor said their only goal is to ensure the preservation of Mirror Pond, and they do not expect to make money on the endeavor. They do, however, want to be certain the pond does not revert to a free-flowing river.

Smith and Taylor formed a company, Mirror Pond LLC, in which each holds a 50 percent stake. “The purpose of the company is to preserve the integrity of Mirror Pond on the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon, for the greater good of the Central Oregon community and the future generations in Bend,” Taylor said, reading from the Mirror Pond LLC agreement. “This preservation will be at the high-level mark historically associated with the pond over the past 100 years.”

Taylor and Smith declined to provide a copy of this document or their real estate contract with the McKay family to The Bulletin, and they declined to discuss the terms of the purchase option agreement.

This revelation comes at a time when public officials are still considering whether to dredge silt that built up behind Newport dam, or whether to remove the dam. The Mirror Pond ad hoc committee, a combination of citizens, city councilors, park district board members and other officials, is discussing these options. Taylor and Smith plan to present their plan to the Mirror Pond ad hoc committee at its meeting Dec. 2.

“Review all the options you want,” Smith said. “If it’s not preserving the pond, it’s not an option that’s going to work.”

Public officials have said they must obtain permission from the McKay family, which claims ownership of land under Mirror Pond, in order to dredge the pond. Park district officials have also expressed interest in buying that land, which they could use to expand parks if the dam were removed and water levels lowered.

If no one does anything, mudflats will continue to build up in Mirror Pond. Mudflats were already revealed when the water level dropped in early October due to a leak in the dam. PacifiCorp, which owns the dam, announced Monday it does not plan to maintain the structure because repairs would be too expensive. Options including removing the dam or transferring ownership of it to a government agency or private owner.

Officials with the city of Bend and Bend Park & Recreation District did not learn of Smith and Taylor’s plan until late last week. Don Horton, executive director of the park district, said Taylor and Smith called him at that time and said they wanted to meet with him for an undisclosed reason. “So I showed up at Bill’s office late Friday afternoon,” Horton said. He said he was surprised at their announcement, but “after they explained what they’d done and why they did it, it made sense to me because they have the same desires, I think, to find a solution to the siltation issue and they were concerned someone else could come along and acquire the property.”

“I still don’t know what they (agreed to pay) for the property,” Horton said.

Park district officials also discussed the possibility of purchasing land under the pond, and researched ownership of it. Horton said he plans to ask the Mirror Pond ad hoc committee to decide at its next meeting whether to maintain the dam or another structure in order to preserve Mirror Pond, or remove the dam so the Deschutes River can flow freely in that stretch.

Many other officials said they were glad to hear of the contract that Smith and Taylor negotiated.

Ted Schoenborn, a member of the park district board and Mirror Pond ad hoc committee, said it is “a positive step.” City Councilor Victor Chudowsky, also a member of the ad hoc committee, supported the move. “I think it’s great that they did that, but that kind of was 50 percent of the problem,” Chudowsky said. “The other 50 percent is the future of the dam.”

Matt Shinderman, a member of the Mirror Pond ad hoc committee, said it is important to complete the public process to determine the future of Mirror Pond. Shinderman is an instructor at Oregon State University-Cascades Campus, where he teaches courses in environmental policy, sustainability and ecological restoration.

“There’s a lot of frustration out in the community about what seems like an indefinite process,” Shinderman said. “I’m sympathetic to it. It seems like it has gone on too long. But I also think to come up with a good decision, sometimes it takes time.”

Source: The Bulletin ©2013