A pristine Mirror Pond may be trickier than planned

The solution for the growing silt buildup problem in Bend’s Mirror Pond could be more complicated than just dredging the pond and hauling away the sediment, environmental experts told the Bend City Council on Monday.

In a work session Monday evening, Upper Deschutes Watershed Council Executive Director Ryan Houston said it will likely take another two years to come up with a specific plan for fixing the pond.

Mirror Pond could turn into mud flats and wetlands within a decade if left untouched, Houston said.

But when it comes time to move forward with the actual project — which is estimated to cost between $2 million and $5 million — Houston said the most cost-effective and lasting solution might be dredging only certain areas of the pond and transferring some sediment to other locations to help develop wildlife habitat areas.

In other words, more emphasis could be placed on high-tech engineering for certain areas to keep them looking like the iconic pond featured in Bend’s official logo, while other areas might start to look a bit different.

“It will be interesting asking, ‘What are the most critical viewpoints?’” Houston said. “We could ask ourselves what are the top two or three or five view corridors and how could we maintain those as they are. Part of the community process is defining what are those iconic views, and don’t mess with them, and what are some of the other areas where we could be more creative.”

More planning to do

But there’s still a long road ahead before any final decisions are made about the future of Mirror Pond, which was created a century ago when a small dam was built north of the Newport Avenue Bridge.

In the meeting Monday, the City Council expressed support for the Watershed Council’s recommendation that the city should help coordinate the formation of an independent Mirror Pond management board, which would include representatives from the City Council, Bend Park & Recreation District, local irrigation districts and others.

That group would spearhead the initial planning process, which is expected to last about two years and cost $500,000. By the end of that time, the group will be asked to narrow the range of options for dredging the pond, consider environmental regulations, gather community input and begin the fundraising for the project, which will cost another $1.5 million to $4.5 million.

It’s not yet clear how much money the city or other stakeholder groups like the Bend Park & Recreation District — the single largest landowner around the pond — will contribute to the project.

When Mirror Pond was last dredged, in 1984, it cost $312,000 and was funded with money from the federal government and local sources.

This time around, the process is more complicated — and the price tag much larger — because environmental projects are more strictly regulated, said John Runyon, a senior manager and ecologist with ICF Jones & Stokes, a Portland firm that assisted the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council with its study.

“We need to have regulatory approval from both state and federal agencies to move forward, and that’s really where the playing field has shifted since 1984,” Runyon said. “Any activity comes under immense scrutiny from both the stakeholder groups and regulatory agencies.”

Source: The Bulletin ©2009

Future of Mirror Pond is on council agenda

Just developing a plan to fix the silt buildup in Bend’s Mirror Pond will likely cost about $500,000 and could require two years of work, while actually completing the project could take even longer and cost up to $4.5 million more to complete.

That’s according to a new report from the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and the city of Bend that is scheduled to be presented to the Bend City Council in a work session Monday evening.

Ryan Houston, the executive director of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, said his organization has been working on the report with the city and a team of independent consultants since last spring. He said officials have been talking for years about dredging the pond, but before now have only been speculating about how much it would cost or what the work would look like.

“We went out to the consultants and said, ‘If you were going to do this today in 2009, what would it cost for you to actually do it and what specifically would you do?’” Houston said. “The idea is to get to a point where we are talking about very specific tasks that we can put specific dollar amounts on.”

Mirror Pond was created when a dam was built in 1909 just north of the Newport Avenue Bridge. The image of Mirror Pond with the Cascades as a backdrop has been an iconic image for the city of Bend.

It was last dredged in 1984, and since then sediment has built up. In earlier reports, experts have warned that the popular landmark will likely turn into mud flats and wetlands within five to 10 years if it isn’t dredged again.

In his presentation to the council on Monday, Houston said he’ll be recommending that the city help create an independent management board for Mirror Pond, which would include representatives from the City Council, Bend Park & Recreation District and Deschutes Basin Board of Control, an irrigation management group, among others. The group, he said, would help direct the two-year planning process, which would include looking further at the range of options for fixing the silt buildup issue and include members of the community in the decision-making process.

Houston said the cost of the project could vary from $2 million to $5 million, depending on the kind of solution the community settles on and how long the fix would be expected to last. He said he knows many people might be frustrated by how long the project will take and how much it will cost, but it’s important to do it right.

“In the end, to have a successful project, we have to invest the time and invest the money,” he said.

Church expansion

Also this week, the City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on a proposed change to Bend’s development code that would allow Westside Church on Northwest Shevlin Park Road to expand and construct new buildings on land that had previously been zoned for a church park.

In January, a Bend hearings officer recommended that the city OK the church’s plans, which call for the construction of a new day care facility and maintenance buildings and the expansion of an existing worship center, children’s ministry and administrative office space. But according to city documents, some neighbors have raised concerns about the plan, saying they believed some of the church’s land would be used as a park, not for additional buildings.

The council will vote on the issue at a later meeting.

Source: The Bulletin ©2009

Former Bend Water Pageant queen dies at 94

In 1934, Lois Maker Gumpert was queen of the Bend Water Pageant, which was described as “every Bend girl’s dream.” Photo courtesy Deschutes County Historical Society

Bend has lost one of its queens.

Lois Maker Gumpert, the queen of the 1934 Bend Water Pageant, died this week.

The lifelong Central Oregonian was many things to people in the community. To some, she was the beautiful queen of the water pageant in 1934 and the 1995 Pioneer Queen of Deschutes County. To others, she was a gifted piano player who was fond of upbeat jazzy tunes.

There aren’t many people left in Bend who have seen the way Central Oregon has changed like Gumpert had, said her daughter, Donna Rustand.

Gumpert, 94, was born in Prineville and grew up in the Shevlin-Hixon logging camp, a timber town that moved around Central Oregon on rail cars. Her father operated a pump to supply water to the camp.

Gumpert was 17 when she was crowned the queen of the Bend Water Pageant in front of about 12,000 people. The pageant, which started in 1933, was a Fourth of July event that capped off a three-day celebration featuring boxing, wrestling, baseball, horse racing, dances, parades and fireworks, according to the The Bulletin archives. After the first pageant, city leaders decided to aggressively plan for the next year.

By the time 1934 rolled around, the event featured elaborately decorated floats sailing down the Deschutes River. Gumpert was elected queen by a regionwide popular vote. Gumpert was also crowned again when the pageant was revived in 2000.

Rustand, 72, said her mother’s biggest accomplishment in the community was being crowned pageant queen when she was a teenager.

“She just thought it was a wonderful thing for Bend,” Rustand said. “She said it was a big deal for Bend and really put it on the map.”

She married Raymond Gumpert, another resident of the logging camp, in 1935 and served as postmaster for the camp. In 1948, the family, which grew to include three children, moved to Bend.

Gumpert, a talented piano player, performed at dances at the Central Oregon lumber camps and was the first female member of the Kiwanis Club of Bend, a community service group.

She also played at the bazaar for the Deschutes County Historical Society every year.

Gumpert could play by ear like no other, Rustand said.

“Anyone who knows my mom identifies her with her piano playing,” Rustand said.

Gumpert worked as a secretary to principals within the Bend-La Pine school district, and after her retirement she traveled extensively to places such as London, Norway, Israel and Mexico.

Her husband died in 1989. And Lois played upbeat piano music at his funeral.

Gumpert could play almost any tune that was suggested.

“If they sang the tune for her, she could just take off,” Rustand said.

Rustand, who often played the piano with her mother, said Gumpert always had a tune in her head. As a child, she often heard her mother performing kitchen chores to a tune.

During Gumpert’s later years, she had carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis, Rustand said. She often said her hands were numb, but she could still play the piano, simply from memory.

“It’s so ingrained in her,” she said. “Her muscle memory just takes over.”

Jim Crowell, who went to Bend High School with Rustand, said the Gumperts would often have the eighth-grade class out to their farm between U.S. Highway 20 and U.S. Highway 97 for parties.

Crowell said Gumpert was a rare breed of a woman who was well liked by men, but also respected and liked by women.

“Much of that was physical beauty and much of that was her personality,” he said. “It was one heck of a combination.”

Gumpert was part of the fabric of the Bend community, Crowell said.

“She was a walking history book of what Bend was,” he said. “She spanned almost the entire economic and social history of the town and the area.”

Barbara Buxton, the membership chairwoman of the Deschutes County Pioneer Association, said she enjoyed hearing Gumpert play the piano for many years at the Deschutes County Historical Society annual fundraiser.

Gumpert was also the 1995 Pioneer Queen of Deschutes County.

“She was just a one in a million person,” she said. “A beautiful lady.”

Buxton said she can’t put Gumpert’s impact on the Bend and Central Oregon community into words.

“She truly exemplifies the ‘spirit’ of Central Oregon and of a true pioneer,” she said.

Rustand said Gumpert, who lived in an apartment at Bend Villa and was in hospice care until her death, told her recently she had no regrets in life.

“She said if I had my life to live over, I would live in the same way I did,” Rustand said. “A lot of people can’t say that.”

Source: The Bulletin ©2009

Moving Forward on Mirror Pond:

The full report: Moving_Forward_on_Mirror_Pond_3_12_09 report to council 3-30-09

[SlideDeck2 id=2039 ress=1]

The City of Bend secured the assistance of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and a network of consultants to identify next steps for addressing the sedimentation problem in Mirror Pond. This group reviewed existing documents, evaluated similar projects in other communities and engaged the advice of other local, state and regional partners, resulting in the following key findings:

1) Any short or long term actions in Mirror Pond, including dredging, will likely require $2 to $5 million in funding for design, permitting, construction and other costs. Local funding is not available so funding must be sought from outside sources. The most likely sources of funding are state and federal grants.

2) State and/or federal grants will require the completion of what is called a “Feasibility Study” or “Alternatives Analysis” (hereafter referred to as ‘Alternatives Analysis’). This Alternatives Analysis will need to clearly document a) the purpose and need of the proposed activity, b) the positive and negative impacts of the proposed activity on issues of social, economic and environmental importance, and c) that alternative activities have been thoroughly developed and evaluated against specific criteria, leading to the selection of the proposed activity.

3) State and federal permits required for any significant management activity in Mirror Pond will also require an Alternatives Analysis.

4) The Alternatives Analysis will be successful only if it is managed by an independent team that integrates the many different community interests and perspectives that need to be considered in the management of Mirror Pond and the Deschutes River.

5) The Alternatives Analysis is a critical next step because it is necessary to secure the funding and regulatory approvals required for any type of management activity in Mirror Pond.

Based on these five findings, the community should move forward with the following steps:

1) Establish a seven member Independent Management Board made up of one representative from each of the following entities:

a. Bend City Council

b. Bend Metro Park and Recreation District

c. Deschutes Basin Board of Control or other irrigation management organization

d. Bend Chamber of Commerce or other local business organization

e. Pacific Power

f. Adjacent neighborhood association or property owner

g. Local river or watershed management organization

Once the Independent Management Board has been created it should:

2) Oversee the development and completion of the Alternatives Analysis by:

a. Reviewing, revising (if necessary) and approving the proposed Scope of Work for the
Alternatives Analysis that is attached to this document;

b. Securing funding for the completion of the Alternatives Analysis by working with local, state and federal partners;

c. Engaging the community in a dialogue about the Alternatives Analysis and the future of Mirror Pond; and

d. Managing the completion of the Alternatives Analysis, including selection of the consultant to conduct the Alternatives Analysis.

3) Oversee the development of the proposed final project design that results from the Alternatives Analysis;

4) Secure funding for and oversee the construction of the proposed final project.

Document: Moving_Forward_on_Mirror_Pond_3_12_09 report to council 3-30-09