Get costs for Mirror Pond options

The city of Bend and the Bend Park & Recreation District have the cart before the Mirror Pond horse, it seems. They’re planning to ask citizens what they’d like to have happen to the pond, then go about figuring exactly how to get there.

Thus they plan to spend half of a $200,000 pot surveying residents about what they’d like to see done to the pond, which has silted badly since it last was dredged in 1984. The current discussion has been going on at least since 1991; it’s time to resolve the matter.

Yet asking citizens what they’d like to see done before there are any serious estimates about it will cost to accomplish each of them makes no sense.

There is, for example, a best-guess estimate that it will cost between $2 million and $5 million to dredge the pond. That’s a whopping increase from the price tag of the last dredging job, though understandable in light of what new criteria will have to be met before dredging begins.

We don’t know, however, what it would cost to remove the Pacific Power dam that formed the pond in the first place, and we don’t know who would be expected to pay for that removal. Nor do we understand the implications of simply letting the silt continue to build up the pond until the city is graced by a mud flat through its middle.

Finally, and no doubt critically, we don’t really know who owns the land under the pond and what the implications of that ownership are. A committee currently weighing the matter is inclined to delay answering that last question, though it seems from here to be a key factor in deciding what can be done.

We suspect Bend residents will want to see Mirror Pond remain Mirror Pond. It is, after all, the signature section of the river that is such a signature part of the community. We also suspect residents will want to be able to choose that option knowing what other choices might cost.

If, after the numbers are crunched, officials want to do a survey, fine. Meanwhile, however, they should spend every bit of the money they’ve set aside to find out just what can be done and what the different options will cost. Then and only then should they ask residents to weigh in on the matter.

Source: The Bulletin ©2012

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