Muddying the pond

A Bend City Council that lets Mirror Pond become Mirror Mudflat will be infamous. Except for Pilot Butte, there’s perhaps no geographic feature more closely identified with Bend than the pond formed by the idling Deschutes River. And there’s probably nobody who wants Deschutes Brewery to replace Mirror Pond Pale Ale with Mirror Mudflat – a turbid dark ale with a bitter aftertaste.

So how should the city decide about dredging before the pond turns to a muddy mess? The council could:

A) Keep some of the debate in secret. Delay release of a study done by the staff of Public Works about sedimentation, dredging and timetables.

B) Keep the debate open. Publicize the options the city has and what causes the buildup of sedimentation.

For a city government that prides itself on its openness, we have to wonder why it recently chose option A and refused to release the study of the pond’s sedimentation.

The city said the document isn’t finished yet.


So the study with all its suggestions was released to city councilors before it was finished?

We think it’s important that the public know that the city may face problems with sediment islands in the pond being defined as wetlands. We think it’s important that the public know that the city may have to act quickly before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires that the city purchase wetlands elsewhere before it does dredging. We think it’s important that the public know the city’s plans to hold public hearings and establish a task force to develop the best approach to dredging. We think it’s important that the public know that the city wants to also look at addressing the causes of the sedimentation. And we think the study that tells us all that should be up on the city’s Web site.

Now, the city may argue that it was going to tell all when it was good and ready. And city officials may say that many of those issues have already been publicly discussed.

So why refuse to cough up the report? We think the interests of the public are better served by a stronger commitment to openness than the city has demonstrated so far with respect to Mirror Pond. If city government were capable of waltzing over to Mirror Pond and gazing down at its reflection, what it would see these days is a closed door.

Source: The Bulletin ©2006

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