The Bend Park & Recreation District has hired a new project manager to tackle the Mirror Pond silt situation.
Jim Figurski started last week, said Don Horton, executive director of the park district. One of his chief tasks will be figuring out the future of Mirror Pond.
For the past decade Figurski was with GreenWorks, a landscape architecture and environmental design firm in Portland, said Mike Faha, principal at the company. Before that he worked for Portland Parks and Recreation for 10 years.
Figurski was a project manager and then technical director for GreenWorks, Faha said. His projects include Tanner Springs Park, a wetland in Portland’s Pearl District, and the Confluence Project, a series of art-based parks along the Columbia River designed by Maya Lin. Lin also designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
He is well versed with “complicated, high-profile projects,” Faha said, particularly those that require permits from a variety of local, state and federal agencies. Figurski could not be reached Friday for comment.
“He’s very experienced and well-seasoned,” Faha said. “Bend parks is lucky to have him.”
Since late 2010, the Mirror Pond Steering Committee has been meeting regularly to discuss silt buildup in the pond. The committee is composed of city and park district officials, along with Bill Smith, a Bend developer whose company owns the dam upstream of the pond; an official from Pacific Power, which owns the dam creating the pond; and a member of the civic group Bend 2030.
The city and park district have pledged $200,000 toward finding a solution for Mirror Pond.
Silt is collecting in the pond, forming mud flats that could degrade water quality in the river. The focus has been on the possibility of dredging the pond, which is estimated to cost from $2 million to $5 million.
Figurski will be doing public outreach to find out what Bend residents want to see done with the pond, said Mel Oberst, director of community development for the city and member of the pond steering committee.
“His first task will be to put together a work program,” Oberst said.
SUNRIVER — After the Deschutes River spread onto his property last summer, Tim Curtin made plans to have a dozen dump-truck loads of dirt dropped onto his yard next spring to raise it and keep water off.
But Curtin, like many south Deschutes County residents, thinks there’s also work to be done in the river to prevent further seasonal flooding.
“There has to be a solution,” said Curtin, 67, who has lived along the river for 13 years in the River Meadows neighborhood.
His home is on a 6½-mile stretch of river — between the South Century Drive Bridge and the mouth of the Little Deschutes River — that has been prone to flooding in recent years.
The Upper Deschutes River is a regulated river, fed by releases from Wickiup Reservoir, said Jeremy Giffin, Deschutes Basin watermaster for Oregon Water Resources. In sending water down the river, the state is meeting the demands of farmers and ranchers downstream of Bend who hold water rights.
Last summer, the river extended onto riverfront properties south of Sunriver as the state ramped up flows to meet irrigation demands. Wednesday night, about 50 people showed up at a meeting where county, state and federal officials talked about the river.
Summertime releases aren’t particularly higher than what they’ve been for decades.
However, a buildup of silt and aquatic weeds could be causing the water level in the river to rise in recent years, Giffin said.
“I think there is a bigger, underlying issue here, and that is that the river is changing up there,” he said.
Dredging or weed thinning could be done to lower the level of the river, Giffin said.
Before doing such work, property owners would have to apply for permits with the Department of State Lands, the Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps, said Kyle Gorman, region manager for the Oregon Water Resources Department. The stretch of river is under a federal Wild and Scenic designation, which could restrict in-water work.
“It would be some big hurdles to do something like that,” Gorman said.
The situation is similar to the buildup of silt in Mirror Pond in Bend, said Carl Jansen, board president for the Upper Deschutes River Coalition. The coalition represents neighborhoods along the river south of Bend.
While the Mirror Pond Steering Committee, which includes officials with the city and park district, is leading research into the possible dredging of the pond, such a group hasn’t been established for the Upper Deschutes River.
For now the coalition will at least keep the conversation going. The Upper Deschutes River Coalition plans to take up the summertime flooding issue at a meeting later this year, said Jeff Wieland, co-chair of the coalition’s watershed committee. He said finding a solution could be a long process.
Roger L. Raeburn, Manager Dam Safety
P.O. Box 3040
Portland, OR 97208
Re: Bend Hydro (Mirror Pond) Dam (B-99)- Inspection Summary
This dam was inspected on July 12, 2012. I performed the inspection with District 11 Watermaster Jeremy Giffin. You were there, as were Tom Becker and Nathan Higa from Pacific Corp. and provided very helpful dam history and safety information. The Water Resources Department conducts these routine inspections to identify safety, maintenance or operational issues that may affect dam integrity. Dams are assigned a hazard rating based on downstream hazard to people and property, not on the condition of the dam. Bend Hydro (Mirror Pond) dam is classified as a significant hazard dam. Significant hazard dams are inspected every 2-3 years.
The results of this inspection are illustrated and described in the following photos and text. This inspection includes recommendations to keep the dam safe
Results of Inspection:
The spillway is often the most important safety feature of a dam. The spillway is needle type structure, with multiple bays to wood stop and end timbers, and a more recent concrete cap.
A walkway constructed on top of the cap that allowed detailed inspection of top of the spillway section. The walkway was sound.
The rest of the spillway received visual inspection only. Some of the timbers show signs of significant decay. The concrete sections that support the bays, and their foundations near original, and a more thorough inspection at very low water would be prudent.
A leak through the spillway section was discovered by Watermaster Jeremy Giffin a couple of years ago. The leak was controlled by installation of sheet pi ling as shown above. The leak is an indicator that this part of the dam is showing its age, and in need of a thorough inspection to evaluate the base and the condition of the large timbers, and the overall needle structure.
The Emergency gate for this dam was just replaced with a new motor and controls. It was operated during the inspection (for a small part of its cycle, as the gate is not in the same condition as its control). The gate and control functioned well for this limited operation.
The gate structure is also old, but appears to be operational, and was opened for limited flow as described above. When closed, there is moderate leakage, mostly through gaps between the old timbers.
The concrete buttress wall forms the middle section of the dam. It is mostly the original section, so is also 100 years old. There are areas of minor to moderate spall, and some fairly minor cracking. Overall, the section appears sound. The area below the dam is well maintained grass, with no wet areas, and was maintained for easy inspections.
The location above shows the maximum deterioration seen in the buttressed wall section. Seepage loss was low, around one gallon a minute. This is not a concern at this time.
The powerhouse wall is also one of the dam sections. This was inspected from the inside, and is in the best condition of any of the dam sections, with no leaks or significant cracks.
Access to and security at the dam was very good. It is, fenced with appropriate signage. This is a run of the river reservoir, and there are no signs of erosion around the dam site.
Continue with good maintenance and operations, including security, vegetation control, and security.
Evaluate Deschutes River flow, and accompany me on an inspection of the base of the spillway structure at very low water. I will coordinate with you and Watermaster Jeremy Giffin on the timing of such an inspection.
We use a standard inspection form for all dams, and a copy of the field inspection sheet for this dam is attached. The next regular inspection is planned for 2015. Thanks for sending me the drawings of the dam, and please let me know if you have any questions about this inspection.
The first of what will be an expensive list of borrowings is facing voters this November — a $29 million request for the Bend Park & Recreation District.
Voters must consider the other massive investments being faced by the community. Soon the school district will ask for $98 million for additional classrooms. The city’s wants are even greater. The essential sewer project will exceed $120 million and the water project is projected at over $60 million. While these last two will be financed by ratepayers rather than property taxes, the costs are borne by the same citizens and add to our overall cost for government services. The increase in both water and sewer bills will be huge.
As a community, we need to develop a process of prioritizing projects before adding to our overall costs. It seems the park district is trying to jump ahead by asking voters for money before the vital needs of other agencies are considered, and before voters realize the impact of more important public investments. You don’t borrow for more toys before you fix the bathroom.
Our Bend Park & Recreation District is perhaps the best such organization in the state. The district is also probably the best funded in the state. It collects fully half as much as the city, out of which the city must provide police, fire, ambulance and other services. The cost of the bond is the equivalent of a 15 percent increase in their tax rate.
The district is amply funded, as witnessed by its palatial headquarters building on some of the most expensive land in the city. It also had sufficient cash to pay $2.5 million for land at Simpson and Colorado, again a very expensive area. With this funding and spending background, it is inappropriate to ask voters for $29 million at this time, $11.5 million of which is just for purchase of bare land.
The bond issue proposes to spend over $5.5 million just on the Simpson/Colorado site for an events center— in addition to the $2.5 million already spent to buy the land — and will later add a skating rink. Several questions arise from this proposal. First, why put it on some of the most expensive land in Bend and not near the population concentration?. We must also ask if this publicly funded center is appropriate, as it will be in competition with private investment. This proposed facility will increase maintenance costs, leading to additional financial demands.
The district indicates that some of this land might be available to Oregon State University-Cascades Campus. Should not this questionable and expensive project be delayed until the actual needs of OSU-Cascades are determined with certainty? Perhaps the entire site would be highly desirable for the university, whereas a smaller piece might be inefficient and less desirable. All potential roadblocks must be removed and all possible assistance provided so OSU-Cascades can develop quickly and efficiently.
Another part of the bond issue is $2.5 million for an increase in trails. It seems this would be a great opportunity for community involvement and volunteerism that in the past was a major contributor to the district’s success. The district has also been incredibly successful in obtaining contributions from the community for specific worthy projects, like Miller Landing and Farewell Bend Park. We need more of this instead of a big bond issue.
The district should put its resources into a much more important community problem, restoring Mirror Pond. It has a closer relationship with the pond, with its ownership of adjacent land and involvement with water activities, than any other organization. Most estimates are this could be done with 10-20 percent of the proposed bond issue. I believe it alone is more essential than all the projects in the proposed $29 million bond and the district must make it the priority.
— Allan Bruckner, former Bend mayor, lives in Bend.
Candidates for Bend City Council discussed their positions on issues ranging from what to do about Mirror Pond to how to pay for police and fire services at a forum Thursday night.
The forum was for candidates running for two of the four City Council positions up for election in November. Incumbent City Councilor Jim Clinton and challenger Mike Roberts are running for council seat 4. Doug Knight, Ed McCoy, Ed Barbeau and Charles Baer are running for council seat 2, currently held by Mayor Jeff Eager, who is not seeking re-election. Candidates for the other two seats up for election spoke at a forum on Sept. 27.
The forum at City Hall was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Deschutes County, a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse candidates or measures.
Moderator Kristi Miller asked the candidates how they would resolve the long running question of what to do about silt buildup in Mirror Pond, which threatens to turn the section of the Deschutes River into a mudflat.
Baer said he believes a majority of residents want to dredge the pond, but he would put the question to voters with a ballot measure. “I would assume the people who live on Mirror Pond would be able to pay for some of the expenses,” Baer said. “Certainly, they can afford it.”
Clinton called for a process that would begin with fact gathering and identifyinng the options and their costs. Then, Clinton would like a public process to determine what the public wants to do with Mirror Pond and how to pay for the work.
Roberts said any solution to the silt buildup must address how dredging or other work will affect downstream properties.
Knight said the process of finding a solution for Mirror Pond stalled because of a lack of funding. Knight would like to create a taxing district that would cover riverfront properties in the water overlay zone, a city zone that extends along the Deschutes River inside Bend. The fund created with this tax revenue would be a long-term solution, Knight said.
McCoy said the city needs to do more outreach and education for residents on the issue.
Barbeau said he liked Clinton’s plan, but the city should start by finding out what residents want. “If you have a plan before that, you’re going to have a hard time implementing it.”
A question that some candidates did not answer was how to pay for police and fire services in the future. The city general fund pays for both of these services, and City Manager Eric King has said that over the next five years, he expects property taxes and other revenue coming into the general fund to grow much more slowly — an estimated 2 percent annually — than the demand for police and fire services, which are projected to grow by 7 to 9 percent annually.
Baer said he is prepared to cut the police and fire department budgets if there is not enough revenue to sustain them.
“It’s bad news, but it’s reality,” Baer said. “I understand this and I feel I’m ready to make cuts in the budget …. I’m just trying to be honest with everybody about it.”
Clinton said he is committed to adding more police and firefighters in the next budget cycle, but did not say how he would pay for the new positions.
Roberts said he would weigh each proposed city expenditure against whether the money would be better used to hire one more firefighter or police officer.
Knight said it would help to remove the Fire Department from the city and merge it with Deschutes County Rural Fire Protection District No. 2.
McCoy said citizens are already paying taxes for these services and deserve quick response times by police and firefighters.
Before any money is spent on planning studies or remediation of Mirror Pond, which may cost millions, perhaps it would be wise for the city to really determine who owns Mirror Pond. Then have the assessor check to see who has been paying taxes on it and send them a bill. If no one has been paying taxes, then maybe nobody owns it.