Citizen input sought on Mirror Pond

Local officials said Tuesday they plan to spend $200,000 seeking a solution for the sediment buildup in Mirror Pond, including as much as $100,000 to find out what citizens want to do.

Options include dredging the pond, removing a hydroelectric dam to return the river to its natural flow and allowing silt to continue building up until the pond turns into a mudflat.

Members of the Mirror Pond Steering Committee met Tuesday and said their ultimate goal is to ask voters to approve a new tax district to pay for work on Mirror Pond, but first they must gauge public support for various options.

“That’s going to gain momentum, it’s going to get people excited about forming a special district and fixing Mirror Pond,” Don Horton, executive director of the Bend Park & Recreation District, said of the public process. The remainder of the $200,000 can be used to obtain permits and other work to prepare for whichever option is selected during the public process, committee members said.

The steering committee includes officials from the city and the park district, as well as Bill Smith, whose company William Smith Properties Inc. owns the dam upstream from the pond; a representative of Pacific Power, which owns the dam that created Mirror Pond; and a member of Bend 2030, a civic group. The $200,000 was pledged earlier this year by the city and the park district, each of which plans to contribute $100,000.

Officials have estimated the cost of dredging to be between $2 million and $5 million.

The park district is also poised to hire a temporary project manager to oversee the Mirror Pond public process and another parks project, the drafting of a master plan to redevelop the former Mt. Bachelor Park and Ride lot at Southwest Simpson Avenue and Columbia Street. Before the district hires the contractor, however, Horton said he will meet with officials from Oregon State University-Cascades Campus to find out whether they support hiring a project manager. The master plan would designate space for both OSU-Cascades facilities and parks projects.

Meanwhile, the question of who owns the land under Mirror Pond remains. Committee members said they do not plan to seek a definitive answer anytime soon, despite the fact that they would need the owners’ permission for any project.

The McKay family, whose ancestors moved to Bend in the early 1900s, claims ownership of much of the land under Mirror Pond. The only member of the steering committee who sought to verify the claim is Smith, the developer of the Old Mill District. Smith paid for a title search and told committee members the McKay family owns 90 percent of the land under Mirror Pond, Bend Director of Community Development Mel Oberst has said. However, Smith has not provided the results of the title search to the other committee members.

Members of the committee said they will wait to pay for their own title search until the public process to select a plan for the pond is complete because they need specifics before approaching any landowners.

Source: The Bulletin ©2012

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