Mirror Pond:

Mirror Pond and Downtown Redevelopment Concept

November 7, 2014

OVERVIEW
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.

UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM

  • 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.

DEVELOPING A SOLUTION

  • 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 AND DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT CONCEPT

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.

NEXT STEPS

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.

PUBLIC INPUT

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

A close look at Bend’s Mirror Pond dam

The committee looking into what should be done with Mirror Pond got an up-close look at the leaking dam there Wednesday, joining representatives of Pacifi­Corp on a tour of the more than 100-year-old facility.

The ad hoc committee, formed last fall, includes representatives from the city of Bend, the Bend Park & Recreation District and the general public. It will weigh in on the relative merits of dredging the pond, keeping the dam, which is owned by PacifiCorp, removing the dam and other alternatives.

The group’s tour came one day before a team of consultants hired by the park district is due to arrive in Bend to inspect the dam. PacifiCorp has been lowering the level of Mirror Pond in recent days to allow for a safe inspection, but water levels should be headed back up this weekend.

Jim Figurski, the head of the park district’s efforts on Mirror Pond-related matters, said the inspection should provide a better idea of what kind of maintenance costs the city or park district would have to bear if they were to acquire the dam from Pacifi­Corp. PacifiCorp has committed to repairing a hole that opened up in the dam last fall, dropping water levels to nearly 7 feet below seasonal normals, but is looking to divest itself of the dam as a generation facility.

“Part of the analysis is what would we need to do for a 50-year or more fix, not just a 10-year fix or a near-term fix,” Figurski said.

He expects the consultants will have a complete report for the committee by the end of the month.

On the back deck of the powerhouse, members of the tour group learned Wednesday how the gates at the base of the dam can be manipulated to control how much water flows out, allowing the dam operator to maintain Mirror Pond at a consistent elevation.

They peeked into buckets of bottles, cans and old tennis balls that are scattered across the dam property, all of them retrieved from the pond above the dam with the help of a long-handled net.

Descending a ladder to a wide lawn hemmed in by the dam on the upstream side and barbed wire on the downstream side, the group examined a now rarely used gate at the north edge of the spillway, where boards can be removed to discharge ice and debris into a crudely constructed rock and concrete sluice gate.

Water seeps through several points along the concrete dam face, nourishing thick cushions of moss sprouting from the stained walls, and as suggested by the footprints dotting the mud below, a handful of raccoons and other small animals that find their way through the fences.

Mark Tallman, vice president of renewable resources for PacifiCorp, said the seepage is a cosmetic problem more than a safety issue.

“The dam is just like a drafty house, it’s just old,” he said.

Visitors donned fireproof suits before venturing inside the powerhouse, where three large generating wheels sat idle Wednesday on account of the lowered water levels. When turning, the three generators can produce enough electricity to power 300 to 400 homes.

Tallman told tour members the powerhouse is still potentially dangerous even when the generators aren’t spinning due to a live power line running across the ceiling that — under the right circumstances — can throw off high-voltage arcs. The controls for the adjacent substation are also inside the powerhouse, Tallman said, cautioning the visitors to avoid touching any of the equipment.

“It is possible, if you accidentally touch or move the wrong handle, you could put Bend in the dark,” he said.

Scott Wallace, a member of the park district board and a member of the ad hoc committee, said he expects the behind-the-scenes tour will prove useful once the engineering report is complete. Until Wednesday, Wallace said he only had a hazy idea of what went on at the Mirror Pond dam.

“I grew up in Bend, and this is the closest I’ve ever come to the powerhouse,” he said.

City Councilor and committee member Victor Chudowsky said he was impressed by the architecture of the powerhouse. If the city or the park district acquires the dam someday, it would be ideal if the powerhouse could be preserved, he said, possibly as some kind of small museum where visitors could learn about how electricity is generated and about a notable piece of Bend history.

Chudowsky said the tour confirmed much of what he already knew — that the dam is old, and in places, starting to fail. Though its days as a power generation facility may be numbered, the dam may still be the easiest and least expensive way to preserve Mirror Pond into the future, he said.

“Really, what we need to be deciding is, is this an asset or a liability, then go from there,” Chudowsky said.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387, shammers@bendbulletin.com

Mirror Pond levels to drop next week for dam inspection

Bend, Ore. — PacifiCorp will lower the Mirror Pond water levels next week to facilitate another inspection of the dam.

The inspection will be conducted by Gannett Fleming, an engineering firm from Phoenix, for the Bend Parks and Recreation District as part of deliberations around the potential acquisition of the dam from PacifiCorp to maintain Mirror Pond after the facility is no longer used to generate electricity.

The drawdown will begin Tuesday morning and will continue gradually until about midday on Friday. The pond will be allowed to refill starting Friday afternoon and should be full again by the Sunday morning. The inspection itself is scheduled to occur on Thursday and Friday. According to BPRD employee Jim Figurski, for safety and security reasons, access to the inspection will be limited to BPRD personnel, the inspectors and PacifiCorp.

Because of increased flows compared to last October when the Mirror Pond was drawn down to facilitate a PacifiCorp inspection, water levels are not expected to drop as dramatically this time, although it will likely be noticeable.

As was the case during the October drawdown and refilling of Mirror Pond, PacifiCorp will monitor water quality and conduct fish surveys consistent with state regulatory requirements.

PacifiCorp inspected the dam on October 31 after a leak developed in one of the structure’s wooden panels. The inspection concluded that while the facility was safe, it would not be cost effective to rebuild the entire facility to generate power for current and future generations of customers across PacifiCorp’s six-state territory. Since then, the company and representatives of the Bend Parks and Recreation and the City of Bend have been in discussions around potentially transferring the dam to a local entity so the community can realize its vision for the future of Mirror Pond.

PacifiCorp has announced plans to install sheet pile reinforcement in front of the leaking panel. The reinforcement work is planned to take place in April, or earlier if permitting is complete and a contractor is in place. The company does not anticipate needing to lower Mirror Pond levels again for that procedure.

Source: Bend Bugle

 

Editorial: PacifiCorp does what is right

PacifiCorp has now demonstrated a gift for doing what’s right on Mirror Pond. It just needs to demonstrate a few more gifts.

The company announced Tuesday that it would fix one of the leaks in the dam.

The leak helped make the pond look and smell about as pleasant as inhaling a noseful of skunk.

There was the potential that lower water levels would continue right through the summer. Boating and paddling could be curtailed. Floating wouldn’t be much fun. Swimming would be reserved for people with short arms. And for accuracy’s sake, the pond’s name should be switched to Muddy Pond.

In December, PacifiCorp said the dam would not be repaired, because it was not cost effective for the amount of power it produced. The tune has changed. Mark Tallman, PacifiCorp’s vice president for renewable resources, says it fully understands the community’s concern about the potential for low water levels during summer recreation months.

“It’s possible Mirror Pond would have remained full this summer without this fix, but in our view this is the right action to take at this time,” Tallman said.

It will enable PacifiCorp to restore hydro generation. PacifiCorp also says it should help negotiations with the Bend community to determine if keeping the dam intact is a better option than removal. The cost of the repair is estimated at $250,000.

With that issue seemingly resolved, the Mirror Pond committee is working on getting the community better information so it can make a good decision. The public really needs to know how much it would cost to remove the dam and do any mitigation and how much it would cost to continue to operate the dam and keep the silt buildup under control.

We support keeping the pond, but that does depend on what it would cost.

Now that PacifiCorp has taken this right step, what will it do next?

PacifiCorp’s new release about fixing the dam acknowledges it may have some interests that are not the same as the community’s.

“The company is very committed to trying to find the best possible outcome regarding this facility that balances the community’s priorities for Mirror Pond and our regulatory obligations,” it says. And it goes on to add that “we are hopeful an agreement can be reached that allows this to happen and also protects the interest of our rate-paying customers in Bend and throughout our six-state service area.”

We hope that is true, too.

Utility to fix Bend’s Mirror Pond dam

PacifiCorp announced on Tuesday that it will repair the leak in Mirror Pond dam in April, in time for people to enjoy higher water levels on the Deschutes River this summer.

One of the wooden panels in the dam began leaking in October, and since then, the water level has sunk, leaving visible the mud flats that have been building up in the Mirror Pond section of the river. The utility stopped generating power at the dam after it discovered the leak, and executives have been meeting with a Bend city councilor and the executive director of the Bend Park & Recreation District to discuss the possibility of transferring ownership of the dam to a government agency.

PacifiCorp plans to install a steel sheet piling upstream of the leaking panel, according to a news release from the utility.

Once the dam is repaired, PacifiCorp will again begin generating electricity at the dam, Mark Tallman, PacifiCorp’s vice president for renewable resources, said in the release.

Tallman also said it is possible Mirror Pond would have filled up anyway this summer, when more water will be released from Wickiup Reservoir.

In December, PacifiCorp spokesman Bob Gravely said it would not be cost effective to repair the dam because it produced a meager amount of electricity. On Tuesday, Gravely said utility executives decided to repair the dam for different reasons.

Gravely said PacifiCorp hopes that repairing the dam will make it easier for the utility and local officials to reach an agreement to transfer the dam to a local government agency. “We don’t intend to generate (electricity) long-term, so fixing one leak for that purpose wouldn’t make sense.”

Gravely said PacifiCorp estimates that fixing the leak will cost $250,000.

Park district Executive Director Don Horton recently called for PacifiCorp to repair the dam to prevent further damage to the structure and ensure the river will be safe for boaters and others recreating on the river this summer.

Regarding PacifiCorp’s announcement, Horton said, “It shows that PacifiCorp has been listening to the community’s needs and trying to do their part in this negotiation process that we’re going through, to figure out a long-term solution to Mirror Pond and the dam.”

PacifiCorp also met privately on Tuesday afternoon with City Councilor Mark Capell and Horton to continue negotiating a possible transfer of ownership of the dam. Capell and Horton are members of the Mirror Pond ad hoc committee tasked with deciding the future of the pond. They were joined in the negotiating session by Ned Dempsey, a citizen member of the committee. Dempsey is a civil engineer who owns a home across from Drake Park.

The committee is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. today to discuss a proposal from committee member and park board Chairman Scott Wallace to appoint Dempsey to the small group that is meeting with PacifiCorp. However, Horton said Tuesday that Wallace went ahead and appointed Dempsey without waiting for a public meeting.

Capell said that during the meeting Tuesday, Bend officials and PacifiCorp discussed proposals from firms that want to conduct an independent inspection of the dam on behalf of the park district. Capell had to leave the meeting during discussion of a proposal from HDR, a large engineering firm where Capell’s brother Paul Capell works. Capell has said PacifiCorp should repair the Mirror Pond dam and give it to the community, and on Tuesday, he said the announcement that the utility will repair the dam does not mean it will be worth more. “It’s not going to make them any money, for sure,” Capell said. Nonetheless, Capell said the utility’s decision to fix the leak is a positive development. “I thought that was an outstanding step forward by (PacifiCorp),” Capell said.

Mirror Pond Dam Repair Planned for April

BEND, Ore. – PacifiCorp will reinforce a section of the company’s dam in downtown Bend to address a leak in one of the structure’s wooden panels that developed in October of 2013. The installation of steel sheet pile upstream of a leaking panel is planned to begin in April.

The company stopped generating power at the dam following the leak, and announced in November that it is not cost-effective to rebuild the entire facility to generate power for current and future generations of customers across its six-state territory. PacifiCorp has since been in formal discussions with Bend Parks and Recreation and the City of Bend regarding a potential transfer of the dam to a local entity for the purpose of maintaining the Mirror Pond impoundment.

“Though the dam remains safe, we fully understand the community’s concern about the potential for low water levels during summer recreation months,” said Mark Tallman, PacifiCorp’s vice president for renewable resources. “It’s possible Mirror Pond would have remained full this summer without this fix, but in our view this is the right action to take at this time.” Tallman said. “This reinforcement is also anticipated to restore hydro generation for the year, and should provide the community with more certainty about the structure and Mirror Pond during the summer season and going forward.”

The company used the sheet pile technique previously to address similar leaks in other wooden panels, known as bays. The work involves driving long pieces of interlocking steel sheets into the river bed to create steel facing on the upstream side of the leaking panel.

“This action will also facilitate further discussions with community leaders to determine if an agreement can be reached that enables PacifiCorp to clearly demonstrate that placing the dam under local control is better for all our customers than dam removal or other alternatives,” Tallman said.

“The company is very committed to trying to find the best possible outcome regarding this facility that balances the community’s priorities for Mirror Pond and our regulatory obligations” said Scott Bolton, PacifiCorp’s vice president for community and government relations. “That includes taking steps like this reinforcement as part of our community commitment, and our support of efforts by community leaders to preserve Mirror Pond’s future.” Bolton added, “We are hopeful an agreement can be reached that allows this to happen and also protects the interest of our rate-paying customers in Bend and throughout our six-state service area.”

Mirror Pond will be back

Mirror Pond will make its return before the start of spring despite the leak in the dam that creates Bend’s iconic lake.

Considering the current dry weather and taking in account the current water levels at the Wickiup Reservoir, the Oregon Water Resource Department is expecting Wickiup to be full around March 10-20. This could change by a few weeks if the weather changes.

Local Watermaster Jeremy Giffin said he will likely open Wickiup around the first or second week of March to where the outflow of water equals the inflow (from the current 36 cubic feet/second up to around 600 CFS). This will increase the flow through Mirror Pond from around 450 CFS to over 1000 CFS. It is estimated that the pond should fill and spill over the dam at around 600 CFS.

Giffin said that he will be releasing roughly the same amount of water this summer as in years past. “For the peak part of the summer (June through August) the flow through Mirror Pond should range between 1300 and 1600 CFS, again depending on the type of weather we are having and the type of crops in North Unit Irrigation District,” he added.

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In March, the flow through Mirror Pond will increase from around 450 CFS to over 1000 CFS.
In March, the flow through Mirror Pond will increase from around 450 CFS to over 1000 CFS.

Leaky Dam Could Affect Deschutes River Summer Recreation

A leak in the dam that forms Bend’s Mirror Pond could lead to unsafe water levels for people hoping to float the Deschutes River by inner tube this summer.

The leak is about the size of a basketball. It’s kept the dam offline since October. The dam’s owner, Pacific Corp, now says it no longer makes financial sense to operate the dam. So last month, the city and the district began exploring the possibility of taking it over as a way to preserve Bend’s iconic Mirror Pond.

But Park District Executive Director Don Horton says if a deal does happen, it’s unlikely to come before the summer, when up to a thousand people a day float the Deschutes. He wants Pacific Corp to make those repairs a priority.

“We have time,” Horton says. “We won’t see floaters until June. However, we need to get the hole fixed as soon as we can.”

Pacific Corp spokesman, Bob Gravely says the dam is safe, adding that any deal that would need to take into account the interests of ratepayers.

Source: OPB News

Another way to save Mirror Pond

I attended the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee meeting on Dec. 3. It was very informative and I learned a great deal about the complexity and estimated costs of saving Mirror Pond “within reason.” The water-rights issues, the cost of repairing a 100-year-old dam, PacifiCorp’s options and the options for moving forward to save Mirror Pond or allow the river to return to a more natural flowing river.

Also, Todd Taylor discussed the reasons he and Bill Smith negotiated an option to purchase the 25 or so acres that the pond covers. Taylor explained they didn’t have any profit motives, only the desire to make sure, whatever happened, that the pond would remain. I might note that there were only a few people in the audience, and only one on the committee, that live outside the west side of Bend, so it occurred to me this issue is more a west-side issue. But in reality, it’s an issue for all Bend citizens.

Both the committee and the Bend City Council have voted to move forward with a plan to save the pond. So public input, it seems, carries little weight for the time being. However, I would like to suggest that instead of trying to save a dam that even PacifiCorp is not willing to repair or maintain, why not allow the power company to either repair the dam (which they have stated they won’t do), sell it to some private enterprise (no one is likely to buy the dam) or decommission it. It seems the third is likely and the committee agreed on that point.

Saving Mirror Pond is a noble cause. However, based on the conversation and debate from the meeting, it will be a long and expensive process that will most likely not be “within reason.” I’d like to suggest a solution that might satisfy the entire community since it is clear that people are divided on this important issue.

Why not just walk away from the table and let PacifiCorp decommission the dam at their expense? Go to the Legislature to create a new water right to allow a pond to exist for the purpose of retaining a cultural part of Bend and for recreation.

Surely our local legislators could carry that successfully to Salem since the pond is an established cultural landmark. Build a new dam just south of Newport Bridge to restore Mirror Pond where the crossing is narrow, create a passage for fish and water recreation and everyone wins. Instead of spending months and who knows how much money trying to negotiate with a company that really doesn’t care about anything but the bottom line and its own self interests.

In this scenario, whatever money is required from the public would go toward creating a whole new attraction for our city. A new and manageable dam that can be used to regulate the high and low water marks of the pond, allow a smaller river channel that flows alongside the pond through Bend, new opportunities for recreation, restored habitat for fish, less silt buildup. Look at the cost/benefit of that approach rather than taking on the expense of repairing and maintaining a failing dam and then having to still deal with the silt problem. As a property owner across from Drake Park with views of Mirror Pond and the Deschutes and as a taxpayer, I could get behind that approach and it might stand a better chance of getting more people to support the effort, especially when putting it to a vote of the citizens.

— Stan Roach lives in Bend.

Source: The Bulletin 2013