Mirror Pond’s future still uncertain

Mirror Pond project manager Jim Figurski said Monday it is taking longer than expected for a consultant to produce images of how the pond would look in the future under different management scenarios, but he expects they will be ready next week.

Sediment is accumulating into mudflats behind Pacificorp’s Newport Avenue Dam, which created Mirror Pond on the Deschutes River. Local officials have discussed possible solutions for years.

Figurksi also met with officials behind closed doors Monday to update them on research into ownership of the land beneath Mirror Pond. Outside of that meeting, Figurski said he has seen documentation of who owns land under the pond, but did not identify the owner. Government agencies need permission from any landowners before they dredge the pond and Figurski said officials will probably keep the identity of the property owner secret until negotiations are complete.

Figurksi, an employee of the Bend Park & Recreation District, presented the information to the Mirror Pond Steering Committee, which includes representatives of the city and park district, a private developer, PacifiCorp and the civic group Bend 2030. Figurski said he had already given preliminary feedback on images of the pond to consultant GreenWorks.

GreenWorks developed aerial views of how Mirror Pond would look in the future under each scenario, plus views of the pond from a point in downtown Bend and from the Galveston Avenue bridge. There will also be a questionnaire to gauge residents’ opinions of the four options, although Figurski did not present that list of questions Monday. Figurski will present information about the four alternatives at public meetings, which are listed on the website mirrorpondbend.com. Images of the alternatives for the pond will also be posted on the website.

The first scenario under consideration is to make no changes to the Deschutes River and allow mud flats to continue developing in Mirror Pond.

A second option is to dredge the pond and remove sediment but leave the dam in place, costing an estimated $3.5 million. Even under this scenario, the riverbank would look different at Drake Park. The park district plans to remove existing walls along the river, “because the existing stone and concrete wall is failing and it was never really constructed carefully,” Figurski said. A more natural bank line, Figurski said, would benefit the habitat and environment.

A third scenario calls for the city or park district to dredge sediment from the river and deposit most of it nearby, to build out the riverbank. This would cost an estimated $5.6 million, according to the presentation.

Under the fourth option, at an estimated cost of $10.9 million, PacifiCorp would remove the Newport Avenue Dam, and local agencies would alter the river channel to keep water flowing past private homes on the north side of Mirror Pond and prevent riparian vegetation from growing thick and blocking their views, Figurski said.

As for the ownership of the pond, Figurski said government agencies would have to order a title search before entering negotiations with any property owner, but the results probably would “not be public until after the transactions were made.”

“It’s not a public matter, it’s a private matter,” Figurski said of the property negotiations.

The McKay family, whose ancestors were early landowners in Bend, claims ownership of most of the land under the pond, although no one has produced documents publicly to substantiate this. There is no evidence in the Deschutes County Assessor’s records that the McKay family owns or pays taxes on land under the Deschutes River.

Figurski said the title information he examined was commissioned by Bill Smith, a member of the steering committee who is also the developer of the Old Mill District. Figurski would not say which title company provided the information.

Related: Who owns Mirror Pond?

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

Mirror Pond should be preserved

Mirror Pond should be preserved as an icon of Bend. This can be achieved by the city of Bend purchasing the dam owned by a private utility, with the revenue thus derived from power generation committed to dredging of Mirror Pond as needed. Bend wouldn’t be the same without Mirror Pond.

Robert Cobb
Bend

Mirror Pond future down to 4 options

The group responsible for finding a solution to silt buildup in Mirror Pond has settled on four options, and is expected to be ready to present the public with a look at the possibilities early next month.

Tuesday, the Mirror Pond Management Board picked its four options from a list of eight developed by GreenWorks, a Portland-based landscape architecture firm that has been studying the situation the last several months.

The options include doing nothing, allowing the pond to continue filling with silt but potentially damaging views, water quality and recreational opportunities. A dredging-heavy option similar to the dredging performed in 1984 is also on the list, as is a partial dredging, in which much of the sediment dredged up would be left on-site to create new areas of dry land.

The final option calls for the removal of the Newport Avenue Dam — a choice which would require the cooperation of PacifiCorp, the dam’s owner — and some in-stream work to manage existing sediment and possibly develop a fixed river channel.

Jim Figurski, a consultant working with the Bend Park & Recreation District to oversee the operations of the management board and the public outreach process, said he hopes to have detailed illustrations of what each of the alternatives might look like and rough cost estimates ready in time public open houses planned for June.

Though detailed cost estimates are still a few weeks out, GreenWorks offered management board some idea what it might cost to dredge and remove silt from the pond, placing the price at between $30 and $50 per cubic yard. The estimate, Figurski said, reflects the cost of vacuuming silt off the bottom, pumping it to a nearby location where the silt can be spread out and dried, and disposing of it.

At the estimated price, it would cost between $1.8 million and $3 million to duplicate the 1984 dredging of 60,000 cubic yards of silt, which was done for $312,000.

The pond is currently estimated to contain 380,000 cubic yards of silt, up from the 350,000 cubic yards estimated to be on the bottom prior to the 1984 dredging.

Figurski said dredging all of the sediment from Mirror Pond was never really on the table. As GreenWorks begins filling in the details of the dredging-oriented options, their goal will be to find the “sweet spot,” Figurski said, how much sediment would need to be removed from where in the pond to put off additional dredging as long as possible.

Ryan Houston, director of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and a member of the management board, said figuring out how much to dredge — if dredging is to be the solution — is a tricky proposition.

The more sediment you dredge from a river, the slower the water will move, Houston said, and the slower the water moves, the more sediment falls out of suspension and begins piling up on the bottom.

“Taking out twice as much sediment will not necessarily get you twice as much time,” Houston said.

The partial sediment removal option would use sediment dredged from the bottom to create shallows or dry land, Figurski said, most likely around the islands in the upper part of Mirror Pond or on the western Harmon Park side. Doing so should not alter the views enjoyed by any of the private property owners along the edge of the pond, he said.

However, the material — characterized as “goo” in the GreenWorks reports — would not stay in place without reinforcement, Figurski said. The option would likely involve bringing in large rocks to stabilize the artificial banks and hold the dredged material in place.

“It would be as natural looking as we could make it,” he said. “There’s no need for it to be a concrete-lined channel.

Houston said he finds the partial removal option intriguing, as the wetlands it could create could help neutralize contaminants that are currently being emptied into the bond through a series of storm drains.

Spencer Dahl, a management board member representing the Old Bend Neighborhood Association, voted against moving forward with the four options.

Dahl said aside from the do nothing option, none of the alternatives met the group’s goal of finding a fix with limited long-term maintenance costs.

The dam removal with channel building option is more of a “canal building project,” Dahl said, recalling the strong support for a free-flowing river expressed in surveys conducted by the management board and his neighborhood association.

“There was a large number of people who wanted the river returned to a more natural state,” Dahl said. “For those guys, the river rats and old hippies, for those guys when you take out the dam only to replace it with a mile-long man-made canal, it kind of defeats the purpose of going natural.”

Figurski said its difficult to know what might happen if the dam were removed, whether that’s through the dam removal alternative on the management board’s list, or as a result of future action by PacifiCorp.

Aerial photos show the river has established a channel that has remained reasonably consistent over the last several years, he said, but it’s unclear if an un-dammed river would erode its way down to the underlying bedrock, or where that bedrock is.

Depending on the course chosen by an un-dammed river, it could be desirable to remove sediment currently on the bottom of the pond, or to create an artificial channel unlikely to change significantly over the longer term, Figurski said.

Each of the three options beyond the “do nothing” option are quite similar in terms of the regulatory hurdles that would need to be cleared to proceed, Figurski said.

Dahl said without greater certainty from PacifiCorp on what it plans for the dam are, both dredging options are premature.

“If we’re going to bank on it being there and spend millions of dollars to dredge or designer dredge, we need some kind of guarantee that it’s going to be there,” he said.

Houston said none of the alternatives selected by him and his fellow board members were particularly surprising, and that the board could well have arrived at the same four choices months ago before the public outreach process began. However, board’s consideration and rejection of other options — one of the final eight possibilities called for dam removal with no sediment management, another for the partial removal of the dam and the construction of stepped water terraces — should streamline the process from here forward, Houston said.

“The fact they were uncovered, they were brought to the surface, that at least means the probability of these coming up at the 11th hour and throwing a wrench in to the process, I think that probability is less,” he said.

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

Idea for Mirror Pond

Pacific Power owns the dam that creates a small but profitable return of energy for this facility. The dam is also the cause of the Mirror Pond build-up. The cost to remove the dam and restore its construction area would be significant to Pacific Power. Why not leave things as they are and Pacific Power pays the cost of dredging the river every 10 or 15 years as the silt builds up.

Harold Anderson
Bend

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

Mirror Pond options in the works

Members of the Mirror Pond Management Board got a preview Wednesday of the next phase in the effort to find a solution for the silt accumulating in Mirror Pond.

Wednesday’s meeting came on the heels of a questionnaire examining what local residents believe to be important in terms of Mirror Pond’s future.

Nearly 1,900 people answered the questionnaire.

It did not ask participants what they would like done to address siltation, but the survey exposed a split between those who would like to see the pond remain a pond and those who would prefer a free-flowing river by removing the Newport Avenue dam.

Jim Figurski, a consultant hired through the Bend Park & Recreation District to oversee the project, told management board members the process of preparing four designs depicting what Mirror Pond could look like in the future is under way.

Board members should expect a first look at the four alternatives in mid-May, Figurski said, with the public weighing in on the possibilities — including projected short-term and long-term costs — by mid-June.

Demonstrating a prototype of the online questionnaire he expects to use during the next round of community input, Figurski pulled up an image of present-day Mirror Pond on a screen. He said the questionnaire program he intends to use will allow respondents to highlight those elements they like or dislike in illustrations that will be created to represent the four alternatives, allowing them to “vote” up or down on things like a sandy beach, a pier or aquatic vegetation.

Figurski said he thinks it’s likely those who participate in the process this summer will find things they like about several of the alternatives.

“I’m optimistic. I think people will be pleasantly surprised by what we’re able to achieve with each of the alternatives,” he said.

Board member Ryan Houston said he was concerned the four alternatives — currently labeled as “do nothing,” “habitat focus,” “river focus” and “recreation focus” — would present questionnaire participants with false choices. The park district has done a good job of developing riverfront properties that provide a benefit to river health and recreational users, he said, and the district’s record should be considered as the alternatives are being created.

Spencer Dahl, board member and chairman of the Old Bend Neighborhood Association, asked fellow board member Angela Price of Pacific Power if it would be possible to open the sluice gates of the Newport Avenue dam so locals could see how the river might respond if the dam were removed. Board member Peter Werner asked Price if the utility would agree to remove the dam if a community consensus for doing so emerged, and if so, how long it would take.

Price said she was unable to answer either question.

City Councilor and board member Victor Chudowsky encouraged Figurski and others working to develop the four alternatives to remember that any changes to Mirror Pond would likely affect the river upstream, possibly as far as the Colorado Avenue dam.

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

Opinions expressed on future of pond

Results are in for a Mirror Pond questionnaire

Bend residents appear to be split down the middle on whether Mirror Pond should remain a pond or be transformed into a free-flowing river, according to the results of a questionnaire released Friday.

Nearly 1,900 people completed the online questionnaire created by the Mirror Pond Steering Committee, a group assembled by the Bend City Council in 2009 to determine what, if anything, should be done to address silt that has been accumulating in the pond since it was last dredged in 1984.

Project manager Jim Figurski stressed that the results are not scientific. Statistically valid surveys use random sampling to discern the opinions of the larger community; while the questionnaire participants opted into the process by visiting the mirrorpondbend .com website and electing to complete the 18-item questionnaire.

Survey participants were disproportionately from the northwest quadrant of the city — 46 percent — and primarily long-time residents of Bend. Just 18 percent of participants reported having lived in Bend five years or less, while 27 percent have lived here 10-20 years and 36 percent for 20 years or longer.

“We’re not extrapolating this to all of Bend. These are the values of those who participated in the questionnaire,” he said.

The questionnaire was developed to determine what residents value about Mirror Pond and how they use it — as opposed to what ought to be done in the future. Where participants could weigh in on the pond versus river question, a sharp split emerged.

At public meetings and in comments submitted by questionnaire participants, a significant number of people have called for removing the Newport Avenue Dam that created Mirror Pond more than 100 years ago. By most estimates, the dam generates electricity for fewer than 500 homes, and Pacific Power representatives have said the company is not necessarily committed to leaving the dam in place long-term.

Asked if Mirror Pond should look like it did before the dam was built, 51 percent of questionnaire participants placed themselves in the strongly agree or agree column, while 49 percent opted for strongly disagree or disagree.

In another segment of the questionnaire, participants were asked to rank four photographs of different sections of the Deschutes River in order of preference — most attractive, attractive, somewhat attractive and least attractive.

An image of rapids that appears to be upstream of Bend — Figurski said he’s not sure of the location — ranked highest, with 40 percent rating it most attractive and 33 percent attractive. A present-day image of Mirror Pond resembling the Mirror Pond Pale Ale label came in second, with 37 percent choosing most attractive and 18 percent attractive.

Rapids near Sawyer Park ranked third, with 15 percent most attractive and 35 percent attractive, while a shot of the area upstream from the Colorado Dam was last, with 9 percent giving it most attractive marks and 14 percent opting for attractive.

The questionnaire also found broad agreement on a handful of matters.

Just 28 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the idea that “the water in Mirror Pond is very clean,” while 91 percent of participants agreed or strongly agreed with the idea “water quality in Mirror Pond should be improved.”

Present-day Mirror Pond is regarded as “beautiful to look at” by 86 percent of respondents, while 83 percent agreed or strongly agreed it is a good place to watch birds, ducks, geese, otters and other wildlife.

Addressed more specifically, ducks and geese did poorly in the eyes of questionnaire participants. Just 1 percent of respondents ranked geese and ducks in the pond and the park as the feature they value the most, while 39 percent put geese and ducks as the feature they value least.

Figurski said consultants working with the steering committee are planning on creating four alternative visions of the area in the future. He expects they will be ready to share illustrations as well as cost estimates with the public by late April.

Each of the alternative visions will be designed to be functional whether or not the dam remains in place, Figurski said, and will be presented to the public in two parts to reflect dammed and un-dammed scenarios.

Figurski said the group responsible for drafting the alternatives will be “walking a tightrope” due to the divide between the maintain-the-pond and let-the-river flow factions. But he expects it will create designs that appeal to members of both groups.

“Because people haven’t seen the alternatives yet, people think its an all-or-nothing thing,” he said. “It’s not, it doesn’t have to be.”

Mirror Pond questionnaire

The Mirror Pond Steering Committee’s questionnaire, posted online, invited Bend residents to answer 18 general questions about Mirror Pond. It is not scientific; it is the results from 1,817 people who chose to visit the website and answer the questions. Here are some of the responses.

Who responded 
• Many of the respondents (36 percent) have lived in Bend for more than 20 years.
• Almost half (46 percent) live on the city’s northwest side.

About the pond 
• Almost half (44 percent) visit the pond at least once a month.
• More than half (59 percent) think the pond symbolizes the quality of life in Bend.
• Walking is the most popular activity at the pond (87 percent).
• Few (28 percent) think the water is clean.
• There’s an almost even split on whether having geese and ducks at the park is “good” (47 percent yes, 53 percent no). But more people (39 percent) identified the geese as the least valued aspect of the pond over anything else.

The pond’s future 
• Few (10 percent) want to see more boating or fishing opportunities.
• About half (51 percent) think the pond should look as it did before the dam was built.
• More (53 percent) want all of the silt removed, changing the shape of the river channel and pond. Fewer (42 percent) want the silt removed, repeated as needed to keep the pond as it is now.
• Few want nothing done (12 percent).

The full results can be found at mirrorpondbend.com.

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

The Somewhat Surprising Results from the Unofficial Mirror Pond Survey

Further proof that the tide may well be turning:
Screen_shot_2013-02-25_at_12.37.20_PM.png
Mirrorpond.Info

That long, split-pea green bar on top represents the 62.26% of respondents who think“The dam should be removed and the river returned to its natural channel.”About 300 participated in the the unofficial survey, issued by the Old Bend Neighborhood Association via the website mirrorpond.info.

The last two questions of the eight-question survey were also surprising/pleasing to see:

Q7 If the dam is removed, what would you like to see happen to the land no longer submerged under Mirror Pond?

12.31% — It remain in the hands of its current owners. (McKay family?, etc.)
15.77% — It becomes the property of the adjacent land owners, maintaining their river frontage.
71.92% — It becomes public property and remains in public use.

Q8 Which would you prefer?

44.32% — Mirror Pond to retain its current charm and iconic stature.
55.68% — Boat or float the Deschutes River from above the Bill Healy Bridge to below the First Street Rapids.

The unofficial survey was drafted in response to the official 19-question survey issued by the Mirror Pond Steering Committee earlier this year. While a number of the Old Bend and River West Neighborhood residents who live near or along the Deschutes River participated in the survey, the majority of respondents—nearly 54%—live outside the two neighborhoods above. You can find complete results here.

The official survey proved unpopular with scores of Bend residents, many of whom have voiced their concerns during various public meetings over the past couple of months. Polling closed today for the official survey and results should be available on Thursday, Feb. 28.

Source: The Source Weekly

Mirror Pond Survey Results

survey-results-2-24-2013_5

Q1 Where do you live?

14.92% – Old Bend Neighborhood
17.63% – River West Neighborhood
53.90% – Other Bend Neighborhood
13.56% – I don’t live in Bend

Q2 Did you vote in the general election in November?

Yes – 88.14%
No – 11.86%

Q3 Please tell us which option below best describes how often you visit Mirror Pond or one of the adjacent park:

Never – 1.42%
A few times a year – 20.21%
About once a month – 20.92%
2 or 3 times a month – 22.70%
About once a week – 16.31%
2 or 3 times a week – 11.35%
Daily – 7.09%

Q4 Please tell us how you interact with Mirror Pond:

Floating – 42.86%
Boating – 30.83%
Stand Up Paddle – 14.29%
Swimming – 6.39%
Fishing – 5.64%
Nature watching – 68.80%
Scenic background for park activities – 81.20%

Q5 What do you think should happen with Mirror Pond?

62.26% – The dam should be removed and the river returned to its natural channel.
35.47% – The dam should be retained and a solution found for the sedimentation problem.
2.26% – The dam should be retained and the pond should be allowed to turn into a wetland.

Q6 If the dam is retained, which of these would you like to see?

50.19% – The pond dredged and its shape kept the same as it is now
26.24% – Change the shape of the river channel and pond, creating rapids.
14.45% – Let the pond fill in and turn to wetlands.
47.53% – Add fish passage and fish screens to the dam.
38.40% – Add people passage or river play area to dam.

Q7 If the dam is removed, what would you like to see happen to the land no longer submerged under Mirror Pond?

12.31% – It remain in the hands of its current owners. (McKay family?, etc.)
15.77% – It becomes the property of the adjacent land owners, maintaining their river frontage.
71.92% – It becomes public property and remains in public use.

Q8 Which would you prefer?

44.32% – Mirror Pond to retain its current charm and iconic stature.
55.68% – Boat or float the Deschutes River from above the Bill Healy Bridge to below the First Street Rapids.

Hydrologists discuss Mirror Pond

Hydrology experts assembled by the City Club of Central Oregon said Thursday there’s no urgency to develop a plan to address silt buildup in Mirror Pond, and suggested an approach somewhere between attempting to maintain the historic pond and removing the Newport Avenue Dam could win broad community support.

Hundreds filled a lecture hall at St. Charles Bend on Thursday to learn more about silt accumulation in the downtown Bend pond, formed by the construction of the dam 100 years ago and last dredged in 1984. In the years since then, the pond has become shallower, the result of silt washing into the Deschutes River upstream and settling on the bottom in the slow-moving waters of Mirror Pond.

Hydrologist Joe Eilers — who was joined by hydrologist Gabe Williams and Upper Deschutes Watershed Council Director Ryan Houston on the City Club panel — told the audience Thursday that dredging to preserve Mirror Pond as a pond is at best a short-term fix.

By deepening the channel, dredging causes the water to move even more slowly, Eilers said, allowing more silt to fall out of suspension rather than be carried further downstream. A pond like Mirror Pond will re-silt fastest in the first few seasons after dredging, he said, reaching 80 percent of its maximum silt-holding capacity within 10 years, and 90 percent within 20 years.

“If you’re going to go the full dredging route, you might as well buy a dredge, because you’ll be back there in the not-too-distant future,” Eilers said.

As of today, Mirror Pond probably has about 90 percent of the silt it can take, Eilers said, but it’s hard to know when it might reach 100 percent.

Icing during the winter has so far discouraged plants from taking root where they might turn shallows to dry land, he said, adding that even if the pond reaches its maximum silt-carrying capacity, the water should continue to flow.

Club member Jim Lussier, the former president and CEO of St. Charles Health System, asked the panelists what the long-term costs of doing nothing might be.

While Eilers focused on the cost of maintenance that is presumed to be needed on the aging PacifiCorp dam, Houston said the cost of inaction may be more abstract. Those who enjoy the views across the pond, its waterfowl, or paddling along the slow-moving waters could lose those amenities if Mirror Pond is left alone, he said.

“It’s not just the capital expenditures, it’s what do people care about,” Houston said.

Specifics of the future of the dam were left unaddressed Thursday. Although not on Thursday’s panel, Angela Price of PacifiCorp was in attendance. Price declined to elaborate on how long Pacifi- Corp intends to continue operating the dam, or what might happen if her company concludes the cost of upkeep outweighs its power-generating potential.

Taking out the dam completely would have a significant impact beyond the area commonly thought of as Mirror Pond, Houston said. Removing the dam would drop water levels directly behind the dam by 8 to 10 feet, he said, and the river would find a new channel through the main body of the pond. The effect could be noticeable as far upstream as McKay Park, where Houston said water levels could drop by a foot.

In response to an audience question, Houston said many of the consulting engineers working on possible solutions for Mirror Pond are also working on the Bend Park & Recreation District’s plans to develop a safe passage through the Colorado Avenue Dam spillway, and are confident they can find a way to make both projects work together.

The dam’s removal would be the best option for fish, Eilers said, lowering water temperatures and boosting the level of available dissolved oxygen by allowing the river to move faster. He said a faster-moving river through Drake Park would also be likely to drive off the geese that have multiplied in the area over the years.

Eilers suggested a fourth option — which he dubbed “designer dredging” — might be the easiest course of action. Such an approach could involve dredging out a defined channel while building up and “armoring” some areas where silt deposition is most pronounced. Other portions of the pond could be restored as above-water-level parkland, he said, such as the shallows in the wide bow just behind the Drake Park stage.

Mike Hollern, CEO of Brooks Resources and a pond-side resident, latched on to Eilers’ description of “designer dredging.” Hollern said his personal preference would be for the future pond to retain many of its present characteristics, but acknowledged that those who live closest to the water benefit most, and should contribute to a local improvement district to help pay for any work on the pond.

Hollern suggested a retaining wall backfilled with silt dredged from the pond could be used to expand Harmon Park on the west side of the river.

Houston said such a compromise could hit a “sweet spot” that could at least partially satisfy those who desire views, wildlife habitat and access to the water for recreation. Dry land for expanded parks could persuade the park district to buy in, Houston said, while developed wetlands that could help clean up the wastewater dumped into the pond by city storm drains could attract funding from the city or grants from clean water groups.

Gary Fish, founder of Deschutes Brewery, joked that the brewery would have to scrap “about 25 million pieces of printed material” depicting the pond that serves as the namesake of Mirror Pond Pale Ale, but echoed Houston’s comments about finding a middle ground between dam removal and repeated dredging.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to get everything they want, but they should get a lot of what they want,” Fish said.

Thursday’s forum was independent of an effort under way by the Mirror Pond Management Board, a group formed by the Bend City Council in 2009. The management board has an online questionnaire where local residents can share what they value about Mirror Pond and the Deschutes River at www.mirrorpondbend.com through Feb. 25. In March and April, the board will be using the public input it’s gathered to develop potential plans of action, including illustrations and cost estimates.

Past estimates have placed the cost of a 1984-style dredging at between $2 and $5 million.

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

‘Integrated Solution’ Called for at City Club

Today’s City Club of Central Oregon forum was a who’s who of Bend’s movers and shakers. Not surprising given the topic: Mirror Pond.

It was perhaps the first time in recent years where river experts, hydrologists and stakeholders, as well as notables like Gary Fish, founder and CEO of Deschutes Brewery, gathered in one room to discuss options for the silt-filled pond near downtown Bend. One thing seemed clear—dredging and walking away, as was last done in 1984, is an option that has fallen out of favor.

“The way we think about rivers is in a period of change,” noted Mayor Jim Clinton, who was also on today’s six-man (no women!?) panel. He explained that the 20th century marked an era of dam building. Now, in the 21st century, we’re seeing more dams taken out, he said. Clinton advocated for what seemed to be a popular solution—a creative, multifaceted fix that might restore the river to a more natural state. Clinton called the issue a “great opportunity.”

Mike Hollern, chair and CEO of Brooks Resources Corporation, made no effort to hide his bias—he wants to keep Mirror Pond. But, Hollern, who lives along the water, said he’d be willing to help pay for a fix—and so should others who live nearby, as they benefit the most from the pond. Hollern also said while the best solution should include some dredging, maybe we could expand the grounds of the parks which would add increased green space. Such a fix would make for a narrow, deeper, faster and colder waterway—all of which would make for a healthier river.

Ryan Houston, the Executive Director of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council did not reveal a solution but did answer a number of questions concerning what was and wasn’t possible. Houston called a “good solution” one that was sustainable (both environmentally and economically), fit the community’s desires, and appealed to the various user groups—fisherman, paddlers, dam owners, floaters, homeowners, etc. Like Clinton, Houston said an “integrated solution,” is the best way forward.

The sold-out event drew out four of our seven City Councilors—Victor Chudoswky, Doug Knight, Sally Russell, Mayor Clinton (Mark Capell, Jodie Barram and Scott Ramsay were absent); City Manager Eric King, E.D. of Parks Don Horton as well as county commissioners, environmentalist groups, notable attorneys and at least one former Mirror Pond project manager.

Unlike the Park District meetings, which were free, this event did have a significant barrier to entry: tickets for the City Club discussion were $35 ($20 for City Club members). Bourgeois!

Source: The Source Weekly ©2013