More study won’t cure Mirror Pond

Choose the one feature that most anyone who has heard of Bend will remember, and it’s Mirror Pond, created in 1910 when a dam was built at its northern end to provide power for the city of Bend. It is arguably the city’s most photographed feature, a staple on postcards and, flanked by public parks as it is, as much a town square gathering place as there is in this community.

But Mirror Pond has problems. Thanks in part to Deschutes River fluctuations, in part to the removal of log decks to the south and other problems, the pond has silted up dramatically in recent years. It last was dredged in 1984, and it’s clear that unless the city does something to correct the situation in the near future, what is now a pond will become a mudflat with a river running down its middle.

Bend city councilors know all that, and have, in fact, made it clear they don’t want that to happen. They understand the pond’s importance; they’re having more trouble coming to grips with what to do to correct its problems.

That may be understandable. While the earlier dredging cost less than $500,000, a similar process would be dramatically more expensive today, and the city simply doesn’t have the money. It had hoped for about half a million dollars in federal funds this year, but it hasn’t received it. The $200,000 it has set aside would cover a mere fraction of a bill that almost surely will top $1 million.

Now, councilors are waffling about what to do next, so much so that they’re talking about partnering with the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council to — you guessed it — study the situation yet again, come up with options and go forth from there. That almost surely would push any solution back by at least a year, perhaps longer.

In reality, there’s no need to study anything. Councilors have said what they want to do with the pond: They want, or wanted, to restore it to what it was after dredging in 1984. That’s the best plan — anything that changes its looks changes the very heart of Bend in most people’s minds. Rather than dithering, studying and fussing for another year or more, councilors should concentrate on the real issue at hand: Finding the money to fix the pond as soon as possible, nothing more.

Source: The Bulletin ©2007

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