Condit Dam Removal

On Wednesday October 26th, 2011, Condit Dam on the White Salmon River was dramatically breached with explosives. This was the first step in a year-long project to remove the 100 year-old dam and restore spawning habitat for threatened salmon.

This video is by Andy Maser.

What would a tax do?

Mirror Pond can’t be allowed to become Mirror Mud Flat. But the problem is money. Estimates from a few years ago placed the cost of a fix at between $2 million and $5 million.

Because of the laws involved, you can’t just get a backhoe and start dredging out the silt. There must be a study that looks at alternatives and considers the impacts. The study could cost another $540,000.

The city doesn’t have that kind of money. The park district certainly didn’t budget for it. There isn’t enough money to even do the study.

One solution being floated is to put a taxing district on the May ballot to create a long-term funding mechanism.

Our question: What would that money pay for?

Mirror Pond isn’t natural. It’s man-made. It was formed by building a hydroelectric dam near the Newport Avenue Bridge in 1913.

The Deschutes River carries sediment. The dam acts like a wall slowing down the river. Some of the sediment is dropped. The sediment builds up. It happens at dams across the world. In Mirror Pond, it is building mud flats. The city dredged the pond before in 1984.

Many Bend residents may be willing to pay into a fund that would keep Mirror Pond a pond. But is that the solution the taxing district would pay for?

One proposed solution has been to take out the dam. The pond might shrink to look more like the river in other parts of town. It could add more land to Drake Park. That “solution” could also create problems downstream as the silt moved. The next stop for the silt could be the irrigation diversion dam near The Riverhouse.

Is that what the tax would pay for? Moving the problem? And if the dam is removed, would a long-term funding mechanism be necessary?

Then there’s the $540,000 study. That looks like spending half a million to find out what everybody knows. But basically, to comply with the law and if there’s any hope of getting federal money to help pay for what’s done, there needs to be a scientific analysis of water quality, the critters in the water, the sediment and alternatives.

Mirror Pond is one of Bend’s signature landmarks. We can’t let it fill in. But the community is going to be have to filled in on some details before it would ever support a tax.

Source: The Bulletin ©2011

New tax for Mirror Pond?

It might take a new — and possibly permanent — tax to prevent Bend’s 101-year-old Mirror Pond from becoming speckled with mud flats.

The manmade water feature, located downtown along Drake Park, has sedimentation problems caused by silt flowing down the Deschutes River and settling on the bottom of the pond.

After several years of false starts and delays, officials thought they were closing in on a possible fix to the problem. But as a consortium of local businesses and governments prepares to sign a contract to fully study the various alternatives, it has discovered another snag.

It doesn’t have any money. Not even enough to pay for the study.

“We’re at a juncture we knew we were going to come up against,” said Michael McLandress, the project manager hired to oversee the current Mirror Pond alternatives analysis. “This is the albatross we’re all trying to negotiate with. How do we find a funding mechanism that will create long-term sustainable funding for Mirror Pond?”

Now discussions have reverted to forming a special taxing district that would collect property taxes to pay for the upcoming study. That money would also be used to pay for whatever fix the study calls for, in addition to setting money aside for future Mirror Pond maintenance and projects.

“It’s still very early in the discussion stages, but the idea would be to have a Mirror Pond tax district on the May ballot,” McLandress said. “We are just trying to determine if that’s even feasible at this stage.”

McLandress was hired last year after the city of Bend, the Bend Park & Recreation District, Pacific Power, William Smith Properties Inc. and the nonprofit Bend 2030 all decided to pool some resources to do a proper analysis of what should be done to Mirror Pond.

That analysis would piggyback on a 2009 study and also include wide-ranging community input that would be combined with a scientific analysis of various options to remove sediment from the pond.

Those options could include anything from leaving the pond as it is and allowing it to fill with sediment to removing the Pacific Power dam near the Newport Avenue bridge and allowing the river to flow free.

Previous discussions have focused on dredging the pond, which was last done in 1984 at a cost of $312,000. The 2009 study estimated any future sedimentation solution could cost anywhere from $2 million to $5 million.

After receiving two proposals over the summer for a new alternatives analysis, the group decided it would hire Cascade Environmental Group of Portland. Though contract negotiations are ongoing, the current estimated cost of this study is around $540,000.

Even though the analysis was planned to be broken into two parts — with the first phase costing about $200,000 and the second coming in around $300,000 — McLandress said “it looks like we don’t even have the funding to get the entirety of the first phase going.”

One option he is looking at, however, is breaking apart the first phase into two more segments, with the first being the public outreach and community involvement portion. By doing that, he said, the project can at least continue to move forward while officials look for funding sources.

“This is the furthest we have ever gotten in this process,” McLandress said. “(But) there’s a budget there that we don’t have.”

Source: The Bulletin ©2011

 

New concepts for Miller’s Landing

Dozens of Bend residents turned out at an open house Thursday, taking an opportunity to weigh in on plans for the city’s next riverfront park.

The Bend Park & Recreation District is on an aggressive schedule to begin construction on the park at Miller’s Landing, across the Deschutes River from McKay Park, by next spring or summer.

Thursday, the district invited the public to view three concept drawings of what the nearly five-acre park could include and to offer their feedback.

Robin Laughlin, project manager for the district, said the public has expressed a preference for a lower-intensity park than McKay Park, the grassy expanse just downstream from the Colorado Avenue spillway popular with summer river floaters. All three plans call for much more limited river access than at McKay Park, with native plants covering the majority of the area along the water’s edge.

Laughlin said three concepts — plans A, B and C — reflect diminishing degrees of development. While plan A features community gardens, a picnic shelter and three river access points, including an off-leash dog beach, plan C has only two small river access points and is dominated by native plants and grassy areas.

All three concepts include public restrooms, the feature most requested by participants at prior public input sessions.

No plans for skatepark

Despite extensive lobbying by skateboarders earlier this year, none of the concepts include a skate park. Bruce Ronning, the district’s director of planning and development, said the district is actively looking for a place to locate a new skate park on the west side, but doesn’t believe it would be a good use of limited riverfront park space.

Laughlin said the district is likely to mix and match different elements from all three concepts in developing its official master plan this winter.

Two design elements captured much of the attention from participants in the open house, who left their comments on sticky notes tacked up next to images of the three concepts: the off-leash beach included in Plan A, and parking in the alley behind Gilchrist Avenue, included in plans A and C.

Both plans were unpopular.

Bob Almquist, who lives on Gilchrist Avenue, said while he has no problem with dogs, they don’t mix well with the park’s focus on boating and floating. A frequent kayaker, Almquist said he’s vulnerable to being tipped over by swimming dogs when he’s in his boat. Off-leash dogs are unlikely to remain on the designated beach, he said, and are likely to cut through the proposed stands of native plants, damaging the plants and creating erosion of the banks.

Almquist said he’s mixed on parking along the Gilchrist Avenue alley. While a parking lot off the alley could slow traffic, he said, it could also create conflicts with the walkers and cyclists who use the alley.

Dagmar Eriksson, who lives on the bluff overlooking the park site, said she leans toward plan B as the best way to both provide river access and preserve riparian areas. She said she often sees boaters who launch or land from the site damaging the banks by pulling their boats through the bushes along the banks, and would like to see designated launch sites at the future park.

Eriksson said she thinks an off-leash area would create conflicts with other users of the park. Across the river at McKay Park, too many dog owners already let their dogs run free and fail to pick up their waste, she said.

One participant left a note suggesting the development of an off-leash beach doesn’t go far enough.

“This should be a dog sanctuary,” the note read. “The anti-dog people are giving Bend a bad name.”

Eriksson and Almquist both said they expect the park district will do a good job, and that any park is a more welcome addition to the neighborhood than the residential development that had been proposed for the site just a few years ago.

In 2006, Brooks Resources and the Miller Lumber family were given approval to build 37 townhomes on the site. Economic conditions stalled the project, and late last year, the Trust for Public Lands purchased the property in order to transfer it to the park district.

“This is just frosting on the cake, the fact this is a park and not condominiums,” Almquist said.

The park district is continuing to accept public input on the Miller’s Landing project.

Source: The Bulletin ©2011

Management Board Minutes 10-3-2011

Mirror Pond Sedimentation and Enhancement Project, Phase 1A
Bend, Oregon

Management Board Meeting
MB Meeting: 03

Meeting Date: 10.03.11 @3:30-5:00 PM
Bend Parks and Recreation Admin Conference Room

MEETING MINUTES

Attendees

  • David Rosell
  • Chuck Arnold
  • Mel Oberst
  • Ryan Houston
  • Tom Greene
  • Mike Olin
  • Don Horton
  • Bill Smith
  • Angela Jacobson
  • Leslie Olson
  • Reagan Desmond
  • Steve Johnson
  • TodHeisler
  • Gina Dahl
  • Michael McLandress

Welcome and Introductions

 

Document: MPMB-Minutes-2011-10-03