Dredging not needed at Mirror Pond, then or now

Let’s stop the blitz of propaganda over the reservoir. The dredging is unnecessary.

Bill Baer Sr. came to Bend in 1919 and built a house overlooking Mirror Pond. And then in 1956, the law firm of McKay and Panner represented Pacific Power and Light Co. for the sole purpose of dredging the pond.

Bill Baer immediately said, “Not with taxpayer money,” because the pond doesn’t need it. He forced them, through a petition, to put the proposal to a vote of the people. The people of Bend unanimously voted the project down.

Mirror Pond is part of the reservoir starting at the turbines of the power house and goes under Newport Bridge for about 200 yards, making a 90-degree turn which is now Drake Park.

Twenty-eight years later, the same law firm, under new names, decided maybe it could once again try to get Mirror Pond dredged because McKay and Baer were deceased and Panner had received a judgeship and had moved to Portland. At that time, in 1984, and without a vote of the people, it was pulled off — but only Mirror Pond was dredged.

Stop and think how you remember the reservoir when you first saw it. Does it not look the same? It is a shallow reservoir with mud flats and always looks as if it might need to be dredged.

Some people learn from books and others are self-taught. I was raised on Mirror Pond and learned how to swim in Claude Cook’s swimming hole at Harmon Playfield, and fished, boated and ice-skated on the reservoir. When ice-skating, there were some tree stumps, which did cause a few problems.

I believe that some people try to paint the picture that silt caused the above-mentioned mud flats. No. These mud flats were a meadow which was flooded over when they backed up the water behind the dam. The water was never more than 8 to 10 inches deep, and the pine trees had to be cut down, but the stumps were never removed.

The mud flats have always been there and show up depending on when they lower the reservoir. It was learned years ago that by draining the reservoir during cold weather (in the teens) the water crest could be killed; also, when the mill took its logs out of the river, not as much silt came down and the sandbar washed away.

The sandbar was North of Galveston Bridge and south of Harmon Footbridge and about 100 feet wide. When it washed away, it left four pure rock islands with vegetation growing on the top. Aerial photos give the impression that this is vegetation growing in the middle of the reservoir, but it is actually on the rock islands.

We — the general public — receive benefits from the sheriff’s levy, the library levy, etc., but will we get a return on this project? Who will benefit from the maintenance of the reservoir?

Perhaps we should pose this question to Pacific Power and other businesses or utilities directly involved with the outcome of this project. Pacific Power owns the power plant and the land it sits on. It could dredge Mirror Pond anytime it wants and as deep as it wants, and it could also pay for it. Just a thought.

— Bill Baer Jr. lives in Bend.

Source: The Bulletin ©2012

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