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

Pick a future for Mirror Pond

Engineering built Mirror Pond. Not nature. And now, Bend is trying to decide the pond’s future.

Mirror Pond has been Bend’s centerpiece since 1910. It is the source of so many memories — floating Christmas parades gliding across the water with twinkling lights, furious clashes of plastic ducks, and river floaters clambering out to float down the Deschutes again. Mirror Pond is one of the images Bend projects to the world.

Get close, though, and Mirror Pond is becoming Mirror Mudflat. Silt is building up because the river dawdles before the dam near Newport Avenue.

The options for the pond’s future are acutely different. Some want the dam taken out and the river restored to a more natural state. Others want to do what’s necessary to keep the pond.

There are complications. Where will the money to pay for any option come from? Dredging would need to be done again and again. The dam is old and owned by Pacific Power. And those are not the end of the complications.

On Tuesday, the Mirror Pond Steering Committee hosted the second of two public hearings on the pond. A crowd of at least 30 made the case for taking out the dam. At the previous hearing, the sentiment tilted toward keeping the pond.

It’s dangerous to conclude much from these two early public hearings. And it won’t be much easier to conclude anything from the responses to the committee’s online questionnaire, either. It’s not a poll that attempts to be a statistical sampling of opinion. Don Horton, the executive director of the Bend Park & Recreation District, told us the purpose is to get as many people involved in the process as possible.

That’s admirable, of course, but the choice to use an online questionnaire rather than something more scientific will make it easier to criticize any decisions the committee makes.

After this phase of the questionnaire and public meetings, options will be developed with costs and funding. The strengths and weaknesses of each option will be presented. There will be more meetings. By June, the plan is to “create (a) preferred vision based on public response.”

The steering committee is the decision-making authority on this stage of the plan for the pond. If you have an opinion about the pond’s future, better let them know. Go to www.mirrorpondbend.com.

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

New Mirror Pond attraction could be Bend’s gold mine

The city of Bend looks at the silting of Mirror Pond as a major problem. Bend needs to turn this around and discuss how it might be a gold mine. At some time in the near future, you will have to dredge the pond, as it is too valuable to not dredge or eliminate it. Here might be one solution:

Begin looking for an old gold dredge. The town of Mt. Vernon used to have one. Track it down or maybe purchase the one in Sumpter.

Maybe there are others out there, waiting to be sold and moved. Right now, with the price of gold where it is, these may be difficult to purchase at a cheap price. But find one! Move it and set it up on Mirror Pond.

Now you will need to be creative. Create at least two condos on the upper floor of the dredge. These condos could have an old-time flair and be available for rental. Make them quite high-end affairs, as they will be in a super prime location as they will slowly move as you dredge the material in the pond. On the roof you could put a dining area, perhaps not reaching the height of the Space Needle in Seattle or other unique locations, but no one else would have the Mirror Pond view that would look back into the city or the park. I realize this might be only a summer and early fall endeavor. Now think of the value of the home sites along the pond.

Maybe if this worked out you would add a barge, to be towed, with a number of condos sitting on the barge. This might be so successful that property taxes might start falling.

The gold dredge will not be a fast-moving enterprise, as it needs to complete Mirror Pond dredging every twenty years or so. So it would be a long-term project that would just continue and continue. It might just create enough activity that the geese are disrupted and take their business elsewhere.

Now the dredge material has to be dealt with, so again, get a little creative. Salt the pond with small gold nuggets, maybe purchased from Sumpter or some other gold area, or really go big and maybe Baker City might sell some of their gold nuggets or even rent them out. Put them on display to show what the condo renters might find. When you stay in the condo, you have to agree to take all metals that become part of the tailings, including the salted gold or any other strange metals. As the tailings come out of the dredge, separate the metal from the silt. Now dealing with the silt needs to be a moneymaker also. Here I am kind of shaky on ideas, maybe places with considerable wind erosion might purchase this silt, or make it part of the deal with Sumpter and it could go back to replace the damage of bygone years when they dredged for gold; or, we have many dry canyons around, fill one up and sell the filled area as land for development. Of course, you would need an environmental study to make sure no endangered species of rattlesnakes or scorpions would be involved.

I could see this now, all over social media of all kinds. Think of the additional tourists who might come to view this lasting impression of the frontier. You could have stagecoach rides to go along with the beer/bike rides to see the community. With deeper water, you might have water shows or even parades along Mirror Pond. Imagine Christmas lights reflected on the pond. What a sight!

— Bob Vancil lives in Redmond.

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

Finding a fix for Mirror Pond

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Around 30 Bend residents turned out Wednesday night to weigh in on the future of Mirror Pond at the first of two public meetings hosted by the Mirror Pond Steering Committee.

The committee recently launched an outreach effort to determine what, if anything, should be done about the silt buildup that is slowly transforming the pond into a wetland. Through the end of the month, the committee will be using community meetings and a questionnaire to try to find out what Bend residents value about Mirror Pond. Starting in March, the committee expects to turn toward drawing up potential plans reflecting public preferences.

Jim Figurski, the project manager hired by the steering committee, said there are two “bookends” when thinking about what to do with the pond. One bookend would be a thorough dredging, returning the pond to a state similar to that when Mirror Pond was last dredged in 1984. The other bookend would be removing the Pacific Power dam that created the pond more than 100 years ago, he said, and allowing the river to return to its natural state.

Figurski spent an hour and a half fielding questions Wednesday night, with members of the audience suggesting both “bookend” alternatives and nearly everything in between.

An online questionnaire — available at mirrorpondbend.com — has already attracted nearly 1,000 responses, including half a dozen detailed proposals as to what should be done.

Jane Williamson, a resident of Harmon Avenue on the west side of Mirror Pond, recalled the 1984 dredging, accomplished for $300,000, a fraction of the $2 to $5 million estimates being floated today for similar work. It was a simple process, she said, and much of the silt harvested from the river bottom was sold back to local residents as “the best compost we ever had.”

Williamson said the process of deciding what to do has become overly bureaucratic, and she’s concerned those who live farther from Mirror Pond may not be supportive of a costly dredging operation.

“I would just be so sad if it went back to a river,” she said. “It’s a jewel, it’s the crown jewel of Bend.”

What Pacific Power elects to do with its dam could determine whether the pond remains a pond or becomes a section of the Deschutes River.

The dam, built in 1910, only provides electricity for around 400 homes, Figurski said. He said the utility is nearing the point where the revenue from power generation will be outweighed by the cost of upkeep. The utility could decide to dismantle or decommission the dam in the near future.

Multiple local residents took issue with the online survey, claiming it didn’t provide adequate opportunities for them to cast a vote for dam removal and a natural river approach.

Figurski said that while Pacific Power’s cooperation is needed to return the pond to a natural state, it’s still very much an option. If the pond were left alone and the dam were not removed, the small islands near the Galveston Avenue bridge would likely grow, he said, while shallows would grow even shallower and be taken over by grasses, cattails and similar plants.

“Doing nothing is actually doing something, because something will happen. Rivers evolve,” Figurski said.

Bend resident Bob Baer said he views the silt buildup behind the dam as similar to snow in a shopping center’s parking lot — it’s Pacific Power’s problem, and they should pay the bill.

“I don’t see the people of the city of Bend paying one dime to do maintenance for their business,” he said.

Baer said he wants local residents to have an opportunity to vote before any money is spent to address silt buildup.

Figurski said the public will likely have an opportunity to vote when the time comes. The process is at a very early stage, and even if a plan with broad community support emerges by early summer — as is the goal — funding has not been identified.

A second public meeting is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Bend Park & Recreation District offices, 799 S.W. Columbia St.

Source: The Bulletin ©2013