Park district takes a first step

The Bend Park & Recreation District took a timid step toward putting a $31 million bond measure on the November ballot to develop large-scale projects and buy more land.

While the wish list hasn’t been finalized, some projects could include an ice rink, a passageway for floaters and boaters at the Colorado Avenue dam, upgrades to the Deschutes River Trail, and an analysis of how to address sedimentation buildup in Mirror Pond.

On Tuesday, the park district board of directors said it supported the idea of asking voters to approve a property-tax-funded bond measure, but admitted there’s still a lot of research to do.

“This is a very preliminary, very big, ugly, scary step,” Board Chairman Ted Schoenborn said. “Well, I shouldn’t say it’s ugly, but it is big and it is scary.”

The $31 million bond measure would be paid back through property tax assessments. According to district officials, an assessment for the average homeowner would be less than $50 a year.

In addition to a nearly $20 million list of possible construction and development projects, directors discussed an $11 million list of potential property acquisitions. That discussion took place during an executive session that was not open to the public.

If any land acquisitions were a part of a bond measure, Park District Executive Director Don Horton said that property information would almost certainly be revealed. In general, he said the district is looking at property that bolsters the Deschutes River trail system and add to the amount of open space that’s available, particularly for regional parks such as Shevlin Park.

Director Ruth Williamson expressed the most apprehension about the bond measure. She was concerned about whether it was the right economic climate and wanted to make sure the district was ready to undertake such an “ambitious” proposal.

“If we’re going to do this,” Williamson said, “we (need to) understand that we’re going to have to give this 150 percent, nothing less, to give this a chance.”

The park district last considered a bond measure in 2004. At that time, the district wanted a new tax to pay for a $25 million indoor recreational facility and pool on Bend’s west side similar to Juniper Swim & Fitness. The bond would also include $5 million to renovate the Juniper pool facilities.

Ultimately, district officials decided not to put that measure on the ballot. Survey results at that time showed there wasn’t much support among voters.

The district recently hired a firm to poll residents about whether they would support a new park district bond measure. The results were mixed, with some officials describing the support in terms of a traffic signal that’s stuck somewhere between yellow and green. There was also more support for conservation projects rather than the expansion of recreation facilities.

Based on these results, the survey firm told the park district that it would “clearly be challenging” to pass a bond measure, but “there does appear to be a path to success.”

The district has until September to craft ballot language for a bond measure. In the meantime, district officials said they will continue to look at the best way to approach a bond measure, and work with the community to come up with a project list they think would pass.

Source: The Bulletin ©2012

Information was needed before public input on Mirror Pond

A number of recent articles in the local news media illustrate citizen concerns about the Mirror Pond sedimentation problem. Issues include lack of progress toward a solution, conflicting community values and lack of community involvement in the decision-making process. These concerns are valid, but the Mirror Pond Steering Committee would like to offer some clarification.

To begin, the river bottom at Mirror Pond is owned by different private individuals, Bend Park & Recreation District and Pacific Power. This information was not utilized in previous sediment management efforts, but ownership information is absolutely critical for determining key stakeholders and jurisdictional authority. Determining parcel ownership has required a significant investment of the committee’s resources.

Fragmented ownership and lack of clear jurisdictional authority for Mirror Pond complicate funding. The city of Bend does not have an ownership stake in the pond, nor is it responsible for the dams that regulate flows and sediment transport in the river. Similarly, while BPRD owns parcels that extend into the river, it does not operate dams. Both parties have committed funds and time to support the process, but those funds are not sufficient to “fix” Mirror Pond.

A recent letter to the editor suggested that Mirror Pond required a collaborative approach, something the MPSC has pursued from the beginning. Several committee members met with the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency responsible for management of Wickiup Dam, in an attempt to secure its participation. The BOR claims that Mirror Pond is outside its jurisdiction, citing a lack of scientific evidence linking management of the dam with increased sedimentation in the river. Without a federal legislative directive, BOR will not participate in the process.

The Pacific Power dam at the Newport Avenue Bridge is a barrier to downstream movement of sediment. Sediment transport is a normal function of rivers, and where there are dams, sedimentation will occur upstream. Advocates for a free-flowing river recommend dam removal and restoring the river to its natural course. I’m personally sympathetic to this idea, but reality in this situation is a bit more complicated.

Removing the Pacific Power dam eliminates Mirror Pond, but there is strong opposition to this idea. Additionally, dam removal shifts the sediment problem downstream to North Unit Dam, part of the federal Deschutes Project. Achieving an ecologically relevant, free-flowing river would entail removal of this dam as well, which would require federal legislation and addressing North Unit Irrigation District water rights. These options are theoretically possible but they greatly expand the complexity and expense of addressing the sedimentation issue.

There is some concern in the community that the MPSC has committed to a flawed process. To be clear, the MPSC has not made binding decisions — financial or otherwise — that restrict our approach to Mirror Pond. How the committee proceeds will largely be determined by the results of upcoming conversations with permitting agencies, specifically the Department of State Lands and Army Corps of Engineers, and by interactions with the community.

The committee has not pursued community engagement up to this point because there were substantial information gaps pertaining to permitting requirements, parcel ownership and costs for conducting appropriate studies to support the decision process. We now have that information.

The MPSC is committed to working with the community to determine the desired future condition for Mirror Pond, studying the alternative options for achieving that vision and developing funding mechanisms that will ensure long-term success. At this time the committee is shifting emphasis to community involvement, beginning with several questions pertaining to Mirror Pond on the upcoming BPRD survey. The MPSC will use information from the survey to develop a more comprehensive community outreach process that will inform the decision approach. We look forward to working with the community in the coming months.

Matt Shinderman, on behalf of the Mirror Pond Steering Committee and Bend 2030.

Source: The Bulletin

 

Steering Committee Minutes 3-5-2012

MIRROR POND STEERING COMMITTEE MINUTES

Attendance: Bill Smith, Angie Jacobson, Matt Shinderman, Don Horton, Greg Blackmore, Neil Bryant and Mel Oberst

1. Discussed BPRD survey results
a. Survey of 400 likely voters
b. 42% yes – 45% no vote to support dredging without any info on Mirror
Pond
c. 56% yes – 44% no vote to support dredging when they received info on
Mirror Pond benefits
d. 33% thought Mirror Pond dredging is important
e. When the word “dredging” was replaced with “protection”:
i. Dredging 33% in favor to 50% in favor of protecting
ii. 71% convinced of value of bond
iii. 72% want long term fix – for “protection” of Mirror Pond benefits
iv. 39% favor special district and 32% favor a bond measure
v. Putting MP on same ballot with BPRD bond will not be successful
f. Neil said results under subsection c above needed to be above 70% for a
successful campaign to do anything for MP

2. Discussed meeting with Corps and Dept. of State Land (DSL) by Greg and
Matt
a. Modify dam for fish passage estimated at $1 Million- favored by DSL
b. Power production at PP dam will not warrant fish passage cost –therefore
cost of passage would be a cost of the Mirror Pond project
c. DSL – wants a thorough evaluation of impacts
d. Corps is not concerned like DSL
e. ODFW – Brent and Mike are concerned about impacts if fish are
reintroduced and/or for existing fish populations in the reach, particularly
for native Redband trout
f. No EIS or NEPA process is required by either agency
g. Environmental impact analysis is not required by DSL but an alternative
analysis is required with one option being no build. A formal NEPA EIS is
not required unless we seek federal funds for the project which then
triggers NEPA.

3. Discussed Mirror Pond ownership, options and concerns
a. Indemnification
b. Property taxes
c. Insurance policy
d. Gift of pond to district

4. Need to do alternative analysis as well as community involvement, but in what
order?

5. Put $ in BPRD bond measure to do alternative study – Board would need to
approve

6. Take $ in MP fund to do a values assessment community outreach

7. Matt will check with Jean Lawson & Associates (JLA) to assess what work can be done for $30,000 8. Bill will work with property owner

9. Spencer Dahl proposal for sluice gates on the PP dam
a. Will scour channel but not sediment deposition areas
b. Coffer dams near dam impede sluice gate operations

10. Next meeting April 2nd

11. Set up MPMB meeting first two weeks in April

Document: MPSC-Minutes-2012-03-05