Mirror Pond Options

Natural Succession: A Management alternative for Mirror Pond if the current Dredge proposal is not implemented.

In an earlier communication I presented my arguments against public funding of the proposed dredging of Mirror Pond. In this communication I will present one perspective on the future of the pond if dredging is not implemented. It can be termed management for natural succession. Part II of this communication will illustrate a possible integrated strategy with fish passage for the pond based on natural succession.

I) Natural Succession.  What is this? In a river that has been dredged, predictable changes follow. Initially there is rapid accumulation of sediment in areas of slowing current where the sediment carrying capacity of the flowing river drops (areas that were dredged). Over years this accumulation slows to the point of minimal further sediment accumulation while channels of more rapid current become defined which carry sediment downstream. These changes occur more and more slowly until the river finds a natural balance. As this occurs aquatic and riparian vegetation finds a footing, insects and other aquatic organisms proliferate, water quality improves and fish and wildlife prosper. These beneficial developments can be accelerated by judicious plantings. This option requires minimal funding and does not require private land owner’s permission; it is simply letting nature take its course as it has for 35 years since the last dredging in 1984.

Some history. The management option of allowing Mirror Pond to find stability through the natural process of succession has received minimal attention in the many studies, discussions, ad hoc committees, Bend Parks and Rec and City Council proceedings dating back to the early 1980s. Clearly there has been an embedded bias for dredging based management strategies.

Arguably however the successional option for managing Mirror Pond is very viable. Let us consider that further.

A current perspective. Consider first the Old Mill log pond above Colorado established by a dam built in 1915. What has happened over the subsequent 103 years? Google Earth photos of 7/27/2018 are revealing. What we see are small wetlands just above the dam (Old Mill log pond 1), and small areas of riparian vegetation above that (Old Mill log pond 2). Siltation has created stable shallow areas upstream. There is a clean river with riparian vegetation. Google Earth photos show large numbers of inner tubers floating here in bliss (Old Mill log pond 3). Is this not a window into a future Mirror Pond? If we allow Mirror Pond to evolve as the Old Mill log pond has (the successional process), what could we expect?

We are 35 years into successional evolution since the last dredging in 1984. Google Earth photos provide further insight. Since 2003 we have what appear to be stable shallow areas of the river and defined primary flow channels (see dated photos). Nor can it be argued that we are at imminent risk of losing the “iconic” pond views as evidenced by photos from January 12, 2019; no mud banks are seen even at the low winter pool levels. It would be reassuring to have quantitative measures as to future sedimentation. In fact, a report to the Mirror Pond management Committee on 4/30/2013 suggests we are nearly at a stable state for sedimentation in the pond. But experts on this caution against predictions given complexities of sedimentation in any given place and time. Empirical observation as I have presented seems to be the final arbiter.

Succession to date suggests we will have a pond view of blue water and historic iconic views without dredging, although it might not match historic views pixel for pixel. If some areas of pond bottom emerge above normal water levels, they can be vegetated with attractive wetland plantings. As nature unfolds, we can tweak pond characteristics if needed with modest interventions. While the “designer dredge” concept captured public support in the public proceedings of 2013-2015, technical issues prevented further implementation of that as conceived. However, the natural succession management strategy allows for adaptive management as we experience empirically the evolution of the pond. Features of the creative thinking behind the “designer dredge” concept could well be implemented. That is an attractive option.

The new pond views could well be preferred by many to the historic view.



The Old Mill log pond, 2018

Google Earth photos show Mirror Pond has stable shallow areas and primary river channels over the past 16 years.

In conclusion, the management strategy of natural succession offers an attractive potential future management strategy for the pond. Why when or how did it get dropped from current considerations?

In point of fact, the currently proposed dredging is the B1 option considered in the Visioning Project; it was dropped for lack of support. And before that a panel of community leaders rejected the current proposal in 2013; a “replay of the 1984 dredge and walk away” intervention was rejected, but in fact that is what the current dredging proposal is. By what process did it now become the intervention of choice?

Recent Funding Committee and Council discussions have repeatedly brought up the idea that too many years have passed without resolution of the issue; that we need to act now to put this behind us. It is understandable that many are frustrated by discussions and studies spanning years. But it seems clear that actions were deferred on prior occasions because proposed actions did not find sufficient support, i.e. were flawed and inadequate. Rather than act out of frustration, inadequacies of prior evaluations and proposed solutions should be fully understood.

The public expects and should demand that appropriate evaluation continue until a solution is proposed that passes muster by stakeholders; the residents of Bend.  There is no justification for rushing into dredging at this time. There is plenty of time to get this right.

II) An Integrated Solution Alternative based on Natural Succession.

In the discussion of natural succession reference was made to prior public processes focused on the future of Mirror Pond. It seems clear that the public desires a more holistic, if you will, strategy for managing the pond.

Returning to the Mirror Pond Visioning Project, one component of the preferred alternative is in fact being implemented by Bend Parks and Rec. That is the trail and bank enhancement project, estimated to cost more than $6M when completed. It is considered a major component of the “Enhance Recreation” goal.

Next let’s consider fish passage, also one of the 5 community goals. The value of this hardly needs exposition; it is so widely accepted that there are laws mandating when dams must include fish passage provisions. That the Pacific Power dam has been exempted is a controversy beyond the scope of this essay. However, we can emphasize one point which is derived from the 1995 FERC Environmental Assessment referred to elsewhere.

In the 1995 FERC EA, fishery issues were addressed in detail. One aspect of that evaluation was economic. ODFW estimated that restoring passage at the dam would create a viable recreational fishery with economic value of ~ $700,000 annually (inflation adjusted to 2018 dollars). It was noted then that factors limiting the value of this option were the lack of passage at the North Union irrigation diversion just downstream from the PacifiCorp dam and the low summer flows of 35 cfs below the NUI dam. Those problems have been resolved. Passage has now been secured at the NUI dam and summer flows below the dam restored to 125-150 cfs. The recreational fishery downstream on the Middle Deschutes has rebounded nicely. Finally, as previously noted, fish passage will impact ~40 miles of river permanently. It seems clear that restoring fish passage at the dam is not only of idealistic ecologic value but also has a substantial return on investment for the community. By way of contrast it is noted that dredging will damage fish habitat and reduce water quality, while natural succession will create improved habitat for fish.

If the public is to invest in the Deschutes River in Bend, investments in dredging versus fish passage at the dam should be compared in both ecologic and economic terms. Based on the widely cited City of Bend 2015 survey, 77% would favor investments that promote a healthy river. Fish passage is a major component of that effort. While dredging impacts ~1 mile of river for 10-20 years only, fish passage impacts ~40 miles of river permanently.

With these points in mind we can now score this integrated solution for Mirror Pond against the community goals scorecard. The contrast with the Dredge scorecard ( see prior essay) is dramatic.

Based on the community goals of the Visioning project, the integrated strategy based on natural succession offers many advantages over the recent “dredge and walk away” proposal.

M. Tripp M.D. January 31, 2013

Future Management

Introduction. For a few years many of us thought the proposal to dredge Mirror Pond was going nowhere. That changed dramatically a few months ago when public access was gained to the ad hoc Funding Strategy Committee .

The public was presented with a proposal to fund a dredging plan for Mirror Pond via a franchise fee increase on Pacific Power. The plan for dredging was considered a closed issue not subject to further debate.

I offered my initial reactions to this in a Guest Column in the Bulletin


and in a letter to the editor in The Source(Dec 19th)


In this communication I will expand on my arguments that the public should not fund Mirror Pond dredging.

At a fundamental level, public funding should require public support. Is public support justified for the current dredging proposal? I’ve used three approaches to answer the question.

1) A first approach is to consider investment opportunities within the City or within the Deschutes River.

What on this list would get your vote for a > $6.7M investment?


  • Transportation
  • Affordable Housing
  • Urban renewal
  • Emergency Services
  • Sewer  hookups
  • Road repairs
  • Growth management issues


  • Habitat restoration
  • Flow restoration Upper Deschutes
  • Fish passage

First to the City options; this list is obviously incomplete. Of note however, at the City Council goal setting exercise on January 16, 2019  as well as in the formal 2017-2019 Council Goals & Objectives no mention whatsoever of dredging Mirror Pond made the various lists

The dredge proposal fails to make a list of the highest value City opportunities.

For the river options consider first that the dredging proposal yields limited benefits for only 1 mile of river for only 10-20 years. By comparison fish passage yields benefits for ~40 miles of river permanently. Restoration of instream flows yields benefits for ~45-90 miles of river again permanently. And as a bonus the latter two have significant returns on investment.

The dredge proposal fails to make the list of the highest value river investment opportunities.

2) A second method for evaluation is based on previously established community goals for management strategies of the pond. These were a product of the Mirror Pond Visioning Project. https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015R1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/73804

That was a robust multiyear joint effort by the City of Bend and Bend Parks and Rec. It followed on a decade of meetings, studies and debate over sedimentation, and what to do about it in Mirror Pond. The Vision identified community goals for management of Mirror Pond. They are useful as a measure of public support of the current dredging proposal.

  • Goal one: No New Taxes for the General Public.
  • Goal two: Reduce or eliminate need to dredge.
  • Goal three: Provide fish passage and enhance habitat.
  • Goal four: Enhance recreation.
  • Goal five: Maintain Mirror Pond.

Sparing the reader a detailed discussion for now, the scorecard for the current dredging proposal can be summarized using the graphic of the Vision Project. The dredging proposal earns an outright negative or a qualified negative for each goal.

Figure 1. Scoring the dredging proposal by community goals

Based on community goals, the dredging  and financing proposal does not merit public funding. Discussion of cost and benefits follow.

3) A third approach is to weigh costs versus benefits. It is independent of the community goals framework.

First the costs. They are more than the publicized $6.7M estimate when analyzed by standard economic techniques that consider immediate costs, costs in the future, usually 30-50 years for public works of this nature, and opportunity costs:

  • Direct line item cost $6.7M
  • Recurrent Dredge Costs ?
    • 2019 cost estimates = 900% increase from 1984!
  • Opportunity costs:  Add Millions of $
    • Other City projects
    • Environmental projects

Costs then should be weighed against benefits:

  • Time limited: 80% of dredged sediment will accumulate again within 10 years, based on experience after the 1984 dredge as well as hydrologists’ predictions. To illustrate the meaning of this, consider that the current proposal targets increasing depth of the pond by ~5 feet. If 80% refill occurs by ten years, then the net gain from the investment after ten years is ~ 1 foot only.
  • Improvement in view is debatable: We still have the same open expanse of water 34 years post 1984 dredge with views as “iconic” as ever – see photos     below. What will dredging add to views now?
  • What % of Bend residents benefit from this expense? Actual enjoyment of dredging benefits (other than views), short lived as they are, will be a reality for only a small percent of Bend residents or visitors, e.g. west bank homeowners or kayakers.
  • The “stinking mud” fallacy. The proponents of the current proposal have frequently referred to relief from “stinking mud flats” or the “stinking pile of mud” as an indication for dredging. The mud story is entirely erroneous reasoning, as the bottom of the pond has only been exposed when the pool level has been infrequently dropped by Pacific Power dam operations for a few days or weeks over recent years. Not only is that not characteristic of the pond under normal current circumstances, dredging will only make a difference at best for a few years until sedimentation again reduces water depth.

Given the high costs relative to very skimpy benefits, the cost/benefit analysis again argues against public funding of the Dredge.

In conclusion, the current proposal to dredge Mirror Pond with financing through a Pacific Power franchise fee does not merit public funding based on any of three methods used to answer the question:

1) by the principle that public monies should be used for the best and highest value investment opportunities.

2) scoring against community goals

3) a basic cost/benefit analysis

It seems remarkable, even irresponsible, for the ad hoc Funding Strategy Committee and subsequent City Council and Bend Parks and Rec board to tell the public that this proposal should be acted upon and to boot with urgency. And the proposal on the table is for TaylorNW, one of the architects of the plan, to get an unbid contract for the dredging!

How did politics highjack science and prior public process conclusions, and proceed as if the public has no vote at this time?

It seems clear that the current proposal to dredge Mirror Pond and finance via a franchise fee should not receive public funding. A return to a transparent open public process is called for.

Michael Tripp M.D.                                                     January 28, 2019

Dam leak turns Bend’s Mirror Pond into mudflat

Repairs to begin in early November

Stephen Hamway | The Bulletin @Shamway1 View stories and bio

Bend residents visiting Mirror Pond recently saw exposed berms and portions of the bank normally covered by water, after a small leak in the wooden paneling on Newport Avenue Dam caused water levels at Mirror Pond to drop by 2 feet over the last several days.

Bob Gravely, spokesman for Pacific Power, which manages the dam, said workers discovered the leak Wednesday and are planning to repair it, but may not be able to get heavy equipment in place and start work until early November.

“We think it will take a few weeks to get everything in order,” Gravely said.

The dam, which was built more than a century ago to bring hydroelectric power to Central Oregon, has been increasingly prone to leaks in recent years. Gravely said Pacific Power placed wooden paneling over a defunct outlet in the dam about 25 years ago, but the structure has degraded over time. He noted that this was the fourth leak in the dam since 2008, though this one is less severe than previous leaks.

In prior instances, the utility has had success driving sheet pile — pieces of interlocking steel sheets — into the river bed on the upstream side of the wooden panels, which Gravely said keeps the water from reaching the leaking sheet. After this round of construction, Gravely said the entire face of the dam will be reinforced by the metal sheets, which the utility hopes will prevent future leaks.

“This will allow us to maintain the pond for the foreseeable future,” he said.

The leak was compounded by lower-than-normal water levels throughout the Upper Deschutes due to the end of irrigation season. Kate Fitzpatrick, program director for the Deschutes River Conservancy, said the amount of water in the river normally drops during the start of October, when irrigation districts begin ramping down the water they divert for farmers.

Since the end of September, the amount of water released from Wickiup Reservoir has dropped from 820 cubic feet per second to 105 on Monday, an 87 percent decline, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Gravely said the utility can normally regulate how much water stays in Mirror Pond, but having a hole in the dam affects its ability to do so.

Gravely said he doesn’t expect the leak to get worse, but noted that water levels could be as far as 4 feet below normal before the utility is able to repair the dam.

However, Gravely emphasized that the dropping water levels don’t pose a danger to the public, and added that the decline should be gradual enough to keep the fish in the pond from being stranded.

Mirror Pond collects sediment that flows in from the Deschutes River, which has prompted questions about how best to pay for the dredging of the pond. After a fundraising effort by Mirror Pond Solutions, a company formed in 2013 by local businessmen Bill Smith and Todd Taylor, fell short of its target, representatives from the company, the city of Bend and the Bend Park & Recreation District have met several times to discuss funding options.

Gravely said the dam construction will take about a month once it begins, and shouldn’t affect the timeline of the proposed dredging effort.


Bend Park district mulls funding for dredging Mirror Pond

District board supports franchise fee, rejects fee for rivergoers

Stephen Hamway | The Bulletin

Funding a plan to remove silt from Bend’s iconic Mirror Pond may be getting less murky.

During a meeting Tuesday evening, the Bend Park & Recreation District’s board of directors discussed options for funding the removal of sediment from the pond, starting with a list of 15 possible options and narrowing it down to three that the board would support.

In particular, the board supported letting the city of Bend charge Pacific Power and Light, the utility that manages Newport Avenue Dam at the edge of Mirror Pond, with a fee that could be passed down to ratepayers.

The board also expressed near-universal dismissal of a proposal, floated during a joint committee earlier this year, to charge people a small fee to use the Deschutes River.

“Philosophically, I wouldn’t want to charge people to use the river,” said Lauren Sprang, park board member.

Mirror Pond was last dredged in 1984, and the pond collects sediment from the Deschutes River and the Newport Avenue Dam. Last year, Mirror Pond Solutions, formed in 2013 by local businessmen Bill Smith and Todd Taylor, began organizing community fundraising efforts to fund efforts to remove silt from the pond, according to documents from the park district. However, those efforts raised only about $320,000 of the estimated $6.7 million required to remove the sediment. Because of that, the City Council and the park district are looking at ways to fund the rest.

Over the summer, a collection of park district board members, Bend city councilors and representatives from Mirror Pond Solutions met twice privately to come up with approaches to the funding.

The ideas were evaluated according to their legality, their ability to attract funding sources, how long each would take to pay for the project and their ability to pay for future dredging projects.

In addition to the fee charged to the utility, the board was open to seeking additional donations and having the city or park district contribute money from their respective general funds, though several board members were uncomfortable with pulling too much from the district’s general fund.

“Personally, I’m really reluctant to contribute general-­fund dollars,” said Nathan Hovekamp, park board member.

For the park district, the dredging is just a portion of a larger effort to improve Mirror Pond and preserve it for future generations. Horton said other projects include preserving crumbling river banks and connecting the area to the rest of the Deschutes River Trail, which the district estimates will cost an additional $6.5 million.

The board also opted to have two members join a public subcommittee, joining with several city councilors to move forward on a solution for dredging the pond.

—Reporter: 541-617-7818, shamway@bendbulletin.com


Mirror Pond dredging could cost Pacific Power customers, river floaters

Subcommittee will discuss options for raising $6.7 million

Julia Shumway @jmshumway | The Bulletin

A new City Council subcommittee will consider ways to pay for dredging Mirror Pond that could mean higher utility bills for Bend residents or fees for people floating the Deschutes River.

Six of Bend’s seven city councilors voted Wednesday to form a subcommittee to discuss paying to remove silt from the pond, and the Bend Park & Recreation District plans to vote Oct. 2 on whether it will do the same. It’s the latest movement in what’s been more than a yearlong effort from Mirror Pond Solutions, the private group that owns the land under the pond, to get the city, park district and Pacific Power and Light to help foot the $6.7 million bill to remove three decades worth of accumulated silt from the pond.

Mayor Casey Roats and city Councilors Bruce Abernethy and Bill Moseley will serve on the subcommittee, and they’ll look at 12 options. But they plan to most seriously discuss four options: charging Pacific Power a franchise fee that would be passed down to ratepayers, instituting a park user fee, having the city or park district contribute money from their general funds and seeking more private donations.

“My gut sense is it’s going to be some kind of a hybrid mix,” Abernethy said.

The new group’s meetings will be open to the public and press, unlike two meetings held this summer by several councilors, park board members, City Manager Eric King, park district Executive Director Don Horton and representatives from Mirror Pond Solutions. City legal staff said those discussions, which resulted in the list of funding options the new group will consider, could remain closed because no formal decisions or recommendations came from the meetings.

Every funding option should be discussed and vetted, Mayor Pro Tem Sally Russell said.

“We need to be smart about how we move through this financially with the city,” she said.

Two local businessmen — Old Mill District developer Bill Smith and Taylor Northwest construction company owner Todd Taylor — formed Mirror Pond Solutions a few years ago, after the family that had owned the land under the pond gave it to them. They had the permits required to start removing 75,000 cubic yards of silt from the pond this summer, but private donations have raised only about $320,000.

Mirror Pond Solutions has paid $434,000 for permits, but that total is not counted in the $6.7 million dredging estimate.

Other entities haven’t been eager to contribute. The city and park district have their own upcoming costly projects in the area: a $6.5 million park project to repair crumbling riverbanks and connect the Deschutes River Trail, and an estimated $11.5 million that the city will have to spend to replace or update 13 stormwater outfalls and stop debris from entering the pond through the city’s stormwater system.

City Councilor Barb Campbell, who opposed forming the subcommittee, said it doesn’t make sense for the city to pay for a project in a park when it has its own infrastructure projects to fund.

“We’re talking about spending city of Bend money dredging a pond that is in the middle of a park in a city that has a separate parks district,” Campbell said.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160; jshumway@bendbulletin.com


Mirror Pond and Downtown Redevelopment Concept

November 7, 2014

After several years of public engagement and technical exploration, the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee is proposing a concept for the future of Mirror Pond for public input. The concept detailed in this summary satisfies stakeholders who wish to retain Mirror Pond and those who wish to see a more free-flowing river with enhanced wildlife habitat. This concept, called the Mirror Pond and Downtown Redevelopment Concept also offers a vision for the renewal of a critical area in Bend’s downtown core, with opportunities for new parks, restaurants and mixed-use development. The concept will not increase taxes and would be funded and managed by a partnership between the City of Bend, Bend Park and Recreation District, PacfiCorp and the private sector.


  • Mirror Pond is a collector for sediment flowing through the Deschutes River, which backs up into the pond behind Newport Avenue Dam, owned by PacifiCorp. This sediment build-up, if left alone, would eventually create a wetland, picturesque views would be diminished and river recreation would be impacted.
  • The pond was last dredged in 1984 to remove sediment. In recent years, a need to address the sediment build-up became increasingly acute.
  • Stakeholders have been divided on the best way to address sediment build-up, leading to an extensive community-wide debate on the future of Mirror Pond.
  • Factors influencing the debate include:
    • The PacifiCorp-owned dam is 100 years old and no longer produces adequate power to justify continued corporate investment.
    • When dredging last occurred in 1984 there were fewer regulatory requirements. Today, regulatory requirements make dredging challenging and more costly.
    • The dam is in poor condition; repairs will be costly.
    • The land under the pond is owned by a family trust of one of the founding families of Bend. Two local citizens have an option to purchase the land in order to help shepherd a solution.
    • Neither the City of Bend nor the Park and Recreation District (BPRD) have ownership of the pond.
    • BPRD owns approximately 60% of land adjacent to Mirror Pond between Newport and Galveston Avenues.


  • The Mirror Pond Steering Committee was created to oversee the development of a series of scenarios to address the sediment build-up in Mirror Pond.
  • A Mirror Pond Technical Advisory committee provided scientific input and data from which to base the alternative scenarios.
  • Scientifically based illustrations were developed to depict the scenarios.
  • The scenarios were taken to the public for input.
  • Community meetings and on-line surveys resulted in input from over 4,000 people.
  • Community input indicated a division between those who preferred the river to flow in a more natural-like manner versus those who preferred the current look of the pond be maintained.
  • While respondent first choice interests were divided between keeping the pond and returning the river to a natural-like path, there was a second choice scenario that satisfied most respondents. It maintained the pond while improving wildlife habitat and providing fish passage.
  • Results also indicated seven community interests that were shared respondents, including:
    • Maintaining the historic character and picturesque appeal of Mirror Pond.
    • Maintaining or improving public spaces.
    • Enhancing natural habitat.
    • Providing fish passage.
    • Reducing the quantity of sediment deposited in the river/pond.
    • Reducing the frequency that the pond needs to be dredged.
    • Identifying funding with minimal burden on taxpayers.
  • Following extensive community input, the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee, made up of representatives from the City of Bend, Bend Park and Recreation District and citizens, was tasked with reviewing public input and working with PacifiCorp regarding the future of the dam and exploring possible solutions that would address shared community values. The Mirror Pond and Downtown Riverfront Redevelopment concept resulted from this work.


The Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee is proposing for community consideration a project that preserves Mirror Pond, allows for a more free-flowing river, creates wildlife habitat and will encourage dynamic riverfront mixed-use development in downtown Bend.

Concept Outcomes

  • PacifiCorp would divest from their power production interests at the site by relinquishing ownership of the dam and moving the substation to another Bend location. A sub-committee of the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee is currently in communication with PacifiCorp regarding this scenario.
  • PacifiCorp would gift the dam to a public entity (City and/or Park District) who would then oversee conversion of the dam into a water impoundment constructed as a series of pools and riffles in the river. This new impoundment would cause a rise in the river water level behind it, resulting in the preservation of Mirror Pond near its average historic level.
  • The new pools and riffles would provide fish passage where none exist today.
  • The banks along the river would be reshaped to help to reduce sediment buildup and enhance habitat.
  • Pacific Park, the two Mirror Pond parking lots, and PacifiCorp’s powerhouse, parking lot and substation would be repurposed into new mixed use development including public spaces, plazas, restaurants, small businesses, housing and public parking.
  • Private property owners in the area would see value in redevelopment as a means to enhance their investments and support the community’s economic vitality.
  • The Deschutes River Trail would wind through downtown Bend, connecting people to parks, schools and business.
  • A public-private partnership involving the City of Bend, Park District, PacifiCorp and private sector interests would lead and fund redevelopment.
    • The Park District’s role would include selling what is now Pacific Park and using the funds generated to create a new Pacific Park near what is now the substation, improving the Deschutes River Trail through Bend’s urban core, and creating new public places.
    • The City’s role would include encouraging development on what are now the two Mirror Pond parking lots, updating storm water systems, and building a new parking structure. Funds would be generated by a combination of proceeds from land sales/rent, the formation of an urban renewal district, and/or development fees.
    • PacifiCorp’s role would be to divest in the dam and substation.
    • Private development’s role would be to invest in new mixed use development, including retail, commercial/office and housing.


The Mirror Pond Ad Hoc committee is inviting the community to give input on the Mirror Pond and Downtown Redevelopment Concept. Should the concept receive widespread support, an independent consortium would be formed to oversee a development plan. The City and Park District would lead the elements of the project on public lands and make improvements to the dam and pond.


A public input period on the proposed concept will be open from November 2014 to January 2015. The public may offer input through the following opportunities:

  • www.mirrorpondbend.com
  • Public meetings – dates/locations TBD
  • Other outreach opportunities to be advertised through TV, radio, news and social media.

Illustration of the Mirror Pond and Downtown Redevelopment Concept
Mirror Pond / Downtown Concept

Mirror Pond / Downtown 2

Illustration of the Mirror Pond and Downtown Redevelopment Concept
Features include:

  • Buildings indicated in blue are envisioned for redevelopment along the river.
  • New public space exists where the dam and substation currently exist.
  • Conversion of the dam into an impoundment, constructed of a series of new pools and riffles that preserve Mirror Pond and provides fish passage.
  • The historic powerhouse is repurposed into a restaurant or other business.
  • Brooks Park is expanded, narrowing the river channel.
  • The Deschutes River Trail connects new development with downtown.
  • Public plazas and viewscapes maintain connection with the riverfront.
  • The banks along the river provide habitat for nature.

30,000 feet

Your opinion matters. Please go to the Mirror Pond website and share your perspective.  Go to www.mirrorpondbend.com

Please fill out the Mirror Pond Downtown and Redevelopment Concept questionnaire.

PDF: Mirror_Pond_and_Downtown_Redevelopment_Concept

Bend City Councilor is optimistic Mirror Pond deal can be reached

Bend City Councilor Mark Capell just met with the CEO of Pacific Power that owns the dam last week and is encouraged they will be able to work something out to satisfy most people.

“What we’re trying to do is come up with a public-private partnership of some sort to answer the question, the community is really divided on what to do with Mirror Pond — river or a pond. The one thing that people feel really strongly about is they don’t want to spend any money and with a public-private partnership we can accomplish that as well.”

Councilor Capell is part of the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc committee tasked with deciding what to do with Mirror Pond.

Capell expects to have designs for the public to look at and offer input on in the next couple weeks.

Source: KBND

Another Mirror Pond ballot measure is in the works

Measure would require city of Bend to get permits before acquiring dam

By Scott Hammers | The Bulletin

A measure that would limit the city of Bend’s ability to acquire the Mirror Pond dam could be headed for the November ballot.

Spencer Dahl, who’s been active in the various committees and public meetings surrounding the future of Mirror Pond, submitted the paperwork to begin collecting signatures for the measure a little over a week ago. If 15 percent of registered voters within the city sign his petitions by Aug. 6, it will go before voters in the November election.

Dahl’s measure would prohibit the city from taking ownership or control of the dam unless it has already obtained one of two permits: the federal permit needed to operate the dam as an updated hydroelectric generation facility, or the state water right permit to operate it as a nongenerating dam.

The idea of the city or the Bend Park & Recreation District acquiring the dam that creates Mirror Pond has gained traction since December, when dam owner Pacifi­Corp announced it was no longer interested in operating the dam long term. The utility has since repaired a hole in the dam that prompted the announcement, but is continuing to discuss the possible transfer of the dam with officials from the city and the park district.

Dahl said his ballot measure is an attempt to focus the discussion on what he believes is the central issue: Should the Mirror Pond dam continue to be a hydroelectric facility or not? He said his research suggests it’s unlikely the state would grant the water rights needed for the dam to remain if it’s not generating electricity, and if that’s the case, many of the ideas now up for discussion may be pointless.

“If we’re spending money on coming up with all these plans and ideas that may or may not happen without this water right, why don’t we focus on getting this water right first?” Dahl said. “It’s absolutely critical — without the water right, all these plans are a waste of time and money.”

Dahl said he’s personally open to a variety of options for Mirror Pond and the dam, though he’s fairly certain the current dam will eventually come out. He said there’s no need to rush a decision: The recently repaired leak washed away much of the sediment that had accumulated on the floor of the pond, and with the repairs, the dam could have another 10 to 20 years as a viable power generation facility.

“I think there’s a great sense of false urgency in the whole process,” he said. “From the beginning: ‘Mirror Pond’s going to disappear if we don’t do this right away.’ They’ve been saying that for the last 10 years.”

Dahl’s measure is distinct from two Mirror Pond ballot measures being advanced by Foster Fell. Fell’s proposed ballot measures would bar the city and the park district from spending public funds on any improvements at the Mirror Pond or the dam without providing for fish passages and habitat restoration.


Editorial: Mirror Pond debate does not need another ballot measure

Deciding Mirror Pond’s future has been corked by secrecy and polls with no scientific basis. It hasn’t helped that there are already two ballot measures that seek to compel removal of the dam before many of the questions about the dam’s future are answered.

But this week, we learned a third ballot measure may be added to the muddy cocktail. The new measure seems to have been born of reasonable concerns. It’s hard to see how it’s going to help things.

The new measure would require that before the city of Bend could take ownership or control of the Mirror Pond Dam it must get the necessary permits lined up. Either it gets the necessary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to operate a hydroelectric dam or it gets a permit from the state to preserve Mirror Pond with a nonhydroelectric dam.

Spencer Dahl, who has been active in the Old Bend Neighborhood Association and has run various media enterprises in Bend, is the author of the new measure. Dahl told us he is trying to ensure the focus in the debate over the pond is in the right place. He sees a false sense of urgency to do something about Mirror Pond. And he is concerned that with so much pressure to do something, the city might do the wrong something — such as take on the responsibility and liability of the dam without getting the proper permits.

He originally considered two ballot measures, one for the city and one for the park district. He says he talked to city officials about the issue and did not get a satisfactory response. When he spoke with park district officials, they gave him assurances that they would not do something so stupid as to take on the dam without getting permits lined up. So Dahl decided only a ballot measure constraining the city would be necessary.

The question now is if voters in Bend should try to help him gather the 7,000 or so signatures needed to put his effort on the ballot or consider voting for it.

We haven’t talked to every city councilor, but we can’t imagine they would vote to take control of the dam without having lined up the proper permits. So for that reason alone, passing this ballot measure is not important.


Editorial: Mirror Pond dam report shouldn’t be secret

The audacity is stunning: Taxpayers spent $23,500 for an independent study of the Mirror Pond dam, but they can’t see the results without permission from PacifiCorp, the private company that owns the dam.

That’s because Bend Park & Recreation District Executive Director Don Horton and Mirror Pond Project Manager Jim Figurski signed a nondisclosure agreement they say gives the utility company the right to decide if the report can be released.

According to an email from PacifiCorp spokesman Bob Gravely, the nondisclosure agreement was necessary because the company gave “information about vendors, contracts, employee salaries and other information that is typically considered commercially sensitive by any business.” They want to review the report and redact any such information before it is released. The public will never know just what was redacted and whether its removal was appropriate.

Bend City Councilors Mark Capell and Victor Chudowsky are properly critical of the situation. Both are members of the Mirror Pond committee charged with determining the pond’s future. We agree with their assertion that the public needs to see the full report so it can make a good decision, and with Capell’s position that there’s no reason for the report to contain any proprietary information.

Horton has additionally said the report is not complete, but that’s no reason for secrecy. Draft reports are public record every bit as much as final versions.

The painful, drawn-out process of resolving the future of Mirror Pond has been anything but transparent. When the latest committee was formed, it tried to hold its meetings in secret, refusing admission to a Bulletin editorial writer. Earlier, results of an online survey were presented as if they reflected the will of the community when in fact only a small segment of people responded.

PacifiCorp has financial obligations to its owners that may well be at odds with the community’s interests. It’s not a criticism of either side to acknowledge their unavoidable adversarial positions. Giving the private side veto power over what the public can know is unacceptable, no matter how good the intentions.