Landowners may pay for pond dredging

Property owners along Bend’s Mirror Pond are busy working out an agreement to finance the dredging of the pond.

Dick Carlson, who lives on Harmon Boulevard, is leading the effort to get the riverfront owners to decide on the fairest method of payment.

He said that after a decision is reached, which could come in two or three weeks, residents will ask the city to form a local improvement district to finance the work.

The mile-long pond stretches between Galveston Avenue on the south and the Pacific Power & Light dam to the north. It has been filling over the years with silt and vegetation, which is beginning to choke the deep channel of the Deschutes River that runs down its midsection — the pond is only a foot deep in many areas — prohibits recreation on the pond and enhances growth of vegetation that sometimes emits a foul odor. Restriction of the channel also is reducing fish habitat.

A study published in June 1981 by the Environmental Protection Agency recommended dredging of the pond to a minimum of five feet over its entire length and breadth.

Doing so would remove between 60,000 and 70,000 cubic yards of river bottom, roughly the same amount that would be contained in a one-yard-square column of dirt 40 miles high.

Dredging is expected to improve fish habitat and decrease growth of vegetation by keeping as much sunlight from reaching the bottom.

The project has an estimated cost of between $200,000 and $300,000.

During meetings last fall, concerned citizens decided that the Bend Metro Park and Recreation District should sponsor a one-time tax levy to pay for the work.

According to Carlson, however, that financeing method has been scrapped in favor of forming a local improvement district composed of property that fronts the river.

“i’ve talke to several of the property owners,” Carlson said, “and their repsonse is ‘Yes, the work needs to be done.'”

But, he said, they haven’t figured out just what is the most equitable method of deciding each property owner’s fair share of the cost.

“The questions are fairly complex,” he said, “such as, who ought to be included in the district? What type of formula do we use? Square footage? Lineal footage? The number of feet they live from the river? Is it fair for the guy on Riverside (Boulevard) to pay as much as the guy on Harmon?”

Carlson said some of the residents in the area are visiting with their neighbors to try to iron out those issues.

The park district, which owns several parks along the pond, has agreed in principle to accept responsibility for a much as 40 percent of the cost of the project. The city also would bear some of the cost.

Some concern has been expressed that dredging would have an adverse impact on the waterfowl that live in the reeds and marsh grasses along the pond.

The EPA study, however, estimates that the only adverse impact that will occur is during the three-month period the pond is actually being dredged. The study says that, because of the noise, the waterfowl would likely move away from the area while the dredging is being done. Birds probably would return, however, when the project is finished, provided their habitat is not disturbed.

Source: The Bulletin ©1982