Mirror Pond questionnaire doesn’t reveal public opinion

If more people fill out an unscientific questionnaire, does that make it mean more? Clearly not, which has been the problem from the start with the approach of the Mirror Pond Steering Committee.

Now officials are concerned that too few people are filling out the second questionnaire or coming to the latest round of meetings.

Project manager Jim Figurski said last week that if more people fill out the questionnaire, decision-makers will be more “comfortable” using the “information.”

If true, that’s unfortunate, because the “information” will be all but meaningless, no matter how many people participate.

Mirror Pond, the central feature of Bend’s downtown, is turning into a mud flat, gradually filling in since it was last dredged in 1984. After years of discussion about what to do, the steering committee was formed and spent January and February holding meetings and collecting responses to its first questionnaire, leading to its June presentation of alternatives and price tags. The new questionnaire asks for reactions to those alternatives, which include doing nothing, preserving the pond as it is, returning it to a natural river, and steps in between. The cutoff date for responses is July 12, and results are to be presented to a joint meeting of the Bend City Council and the Bend Park & Recreation District’s board on July 16.

We’ve argued for dredging to preserve Mirror Pond as it is, although such a decision does depend on resolving questions about the future of the nearby dam and ownership of the land beneath the pond.

Unscientific questionnaires or surveys can easily be influenced by organized groups or even loose coalitions on either side of an issue. They tell you nothing about what a majority thinks or wants or is willing to pay for. And yet the discussion about Mirror Pond has treated these limited bits of reaction as if they mean something about general public opinion.

It’s a dangerous approach, because it builds public policy on a phony foundation. Without at least a scientific survey, the public opinion portion of this project can be worse than meaningless, it can be false.

Management Board Minutes 4-30-2013

Jim provided an overview of 8 potential scenarios to mirror pond sedimentation problem and the 4 scenarios the tech advisory committee recommends moving forward

Jim gave summary of tech engineering report and permitting report

  • Inter-fluve report states pond is functioning as a lake not a river
  • Sediment is soft and gooey and not good top soil, mostly sand
  • 380,000 cubic yards of volume throughout bottom of pond
  • Sedimentation rate is about 1400 cu ft per year
  • There are 2 to 3 meters of sediment at bottom of channel and is much deeper as you move away from channel
  • Hydraulic suction is recommended as the best sediment removal technique

SCENARIOS

A – Do Nothing
Mostly mudflats with a well-defined channel

B- Dam in place with full sediment removal Extensive open water

  • Full sediment removal cost is $18M
  • Repeat dredging every 30 to 50 years

C -dam in place partial removal

D- Dam in place partial redistribution of sediment

  • Designer dredging requires subsurface bank stabilization
  • Use dredge material to create islands, wetlands and park land requires location to de-water sediment
  • Sediment deposition will occur mostly immediately below Galvaston bridge where ongoing dredging can take place

E- Remove dam and no active sediment management

  • Possibility for aggressive pioneer specie invasion in mudflats and wetlands including protected species
  • We can create an amenity that will then be regulated
  • Could pursue “safe harbor” approach

F – Remove dam reconstruct channel with sediment management

G- Remove dam with active sediment management and channel relocation

  • Creates more land on east side of channel
  • This is an aggressive manipulation of channel

H -Partial dam removal and stepped water terraces

Management Board voted 10 in favor and 1 opposed to advance scenarios A, B, D and G for further study

Next meeting to be held in June

Document: MIRROR POND MANAGEMENT BOARD Notes 04-30-2013

2013_03_22_Opp_Const_100sc

Pacific Power Says Dam is “Not Very” Important to Company

Yesterday's MPMB powwow. Photo by James Williams
Yesterday’s MPMB powwow. Photo by James Williams

During Wednesday’s Mirror Pond Management Board meeting Pacific Power rep. Angela Jacobson Price was asked “how important is the dam to your company?”
“Not very,” she said. Price went on to call the Newport Avenue dam, the 100-year-old structure which impounds the Deschutes River at Drake Park, “a small asset” and said it provides power for less than 1,000 homes. Although she declined to elaborate further on what that might mean for the community and the future of the dam, Price did say that altering the dam was in Pacific Power’s “10 year plan.”

It still seems as if the utility company is very much open to relinquishing control of the dam. Price asked “What does the community want us to do?” Ryan Houston, MPMB member and executive director of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council asked Price if the community says, “keep the dam,” would you sell it to the Parks District? Again, Price declined to comment.

Other items of note from Wednesday’s meeting of the MPMB, the non-decision making arm of the Deschutes River siltation project (the Mirror Pond Steering Committee is the oversight group than makes the calls—the management board is a citizen advisory committee):

– “The dam’s not going to be there forever,” explained project manager Jim Figurski. This prompted Houston to ask, how, then can the steering committee draft a comprehensive plan without first deciding what to do about the dam? “It’s a physics problem—the river acts differently with and without a dam in place,” he said. You can’t have a design/management plan that works for both scenarios. “There are ways to do this,” Figurski said.

– Ownership of the land beneath the water remains an issue, though Bill Smith said its primary owner, the McKay family, “wants to be good community citizens,” and cooperate. But, the McKay’s and other potential owners are fearful of liability should environmental tests reveal something toxic in the soil or water. Houston said risk of such danger is low.

– Figurski revealed sample questions to be used during the next phase of community outreach—the visioning phase. Management board members urged the project manager to “make it simpler.”

– Todd Heisler, executive director of the Deschutes River Conservancy, proposed that visioning graphics and alternatives include cost/benefit information “early in the process” to ensure that the community knows what its getting into.

– There are four alternatives for the river going forward, but they are only loosely defined as of yet. The only two that really exist are the bookends—”a do nothing” strategy and “remove the dam.” The middle two strategies will be, in part, formed by public input. The visioning process (what the committee is working on now—March through June) should reveal potential solutions with the idea being that the preferred alternative would be chosen by July or August.

The community will be involved in both of the final two phases, Figurski said. The project’s website is mirrorpondbend.com.

Source: The Source Weekly ©2013

Mirror Pond Sediment Issues

Mirror Pond, the Deschutes River and the adjacent parks and trails are popular features in our community. But as shown in the video, there’s lots of questions about what to do or not do with the silt in the pond. To help find possible solutions, the Mirror Pond Management Board wants to know what your values are about Mirror Pond. Is it the view, the recreation, the wildlife habitat or … ? Share your thoughts in a questionnaire at: www.mirrorpondbend.com

Think Outside the Pond

When it comes to the future of the man-made pond backed up behind an old hydroelectric dam in downtown, the Bend City Council stacked the deck by appointing a Mirror Pond Management Board rather than a Deschutes River Reclamation Board to guide us.

The name alone suggests the inherent bias that’s now given us as skewed a survey as we’ve ever seen marched out for legitimate purposes. The survey, which can be found at mirrorpondbend.com, is ostensibly designed to gauge public opinion on what to do about the pond, which is now laden with silt.

For instance, the survey asks how strongly you agree with statements like “Mirror Pond is beautiful to look at” and in the meantime minimizes the option many in the community heartily endorse: Restoring the Deschutes to an actual river with healthy stream flows and riparian habitat alongside areas for recreation.

This is unacceptable.

We believe the board will likely use the results of this bogus survey to prop up a save-the-pond movement. To avert this, we recommend you take the survey and rely heavily on the write-in-your-own-answer-here options.

Where it asks what aspects of Bend the pond symbolizes, you might suggest “Our forebears’ obtuse quest to dominate nature.” Where it lists options for dealing with siltation, consider “Removing the dam.” And when it asks how you’d allocate $10 toward an array of actions, you might put it all toward “Let our river flow!”

Let’s emphatically reject the tired notion that Mirror Pond symbolizes Bend the way the Gateway Arch symbolizes St. Louis. A good symbol for 21st-century Bend would be something dynamic and vital, a naturally flowing river with rapids, boulders, plants and wildlife.

You should also weigh in at one of the board’s forums, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, and next Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the Bend Park & Recreation District Offices at 799 SW Columbia St. While you’re at the mic, give the board the boot for trying to manipulate and confine public thinking on the issue instead of forthrightly declaring its openness to a fresh approach.

Source: The Source Weekly

Survey seeks Mirror Pond solution

The way forward for Mirror Pond should be known by June.

On Wednesday, members of the Mirror Pond Steering Committee discussed the launching of a public outreach process intended to determine what — if anything — should be done about the silt buildup that is slowly turning the pond into a mudflat.

In the interest of gathering public input, the committee has created a website including a questionnaire asking residents what they value about Mirror Pond, and has scheduled two public meetings early next month.

Under the schedule laid out by the committee, January and February will be spent using the survey results, meetings and other means to identify community feelings about Mirror Pond. March and April will be spent developing up to four possible courses of action, including cost estimates, that could preserve or enhance those things local residents enjoy about the pond at the heart of Bend. In May and June, a second round of public outreach will be held to develop a preferred plan.

Created with the construction of the Pacific Power and Light dam in 1910, Mirror Pond has been dredged to remove silt buildup once before, in 1984. The dredging cost $312,000, but more recent estimates have projected it would cost $2 million to $5 million to dredge the pond today.

Two factors somewhat out of the control of the committee and local government could stymie any plans that come out of the public outreach process.

The McKay family of Portland claims ownership of most of the land beneath Mirror Pond, property that was left over when Clyde McKay’s early Bend real estate company platted the lots west of the water. And, PacificCorp, successor to Pacific Power and Light, has not committed to operating the aging dam, which makes the pond possible in the first place, into the indefinite future.

Committee member Don Horton, director of the Bend Park & Recreation District, said the McKay family’s claim will need to be sorted out before any actual work can begin. For now, the McKays are insisting they be released from any liability in the event contaminants are found in the silt beneath the pond. Horton said it’s unlikely the silt is contaminated — nothing was found during the 1984 dredging, and there’s been no polluting industry upstream since — but the park district or the city needs to be cautious about assuming ownership or liability for the McKay holdings.

“It’s probably a low risk — but it is a risk,” he said.

Jim Figurski, the Mirror Pond project manager employed by the park district, said uncertainty surrounding the future of the dam will be a challenge for the committee. Whatever approach comes out of the public process — whether complete dredging, partial dredging or no dredging at all — Figurski said removing the dam would so alter the landscape that the public might demand a new approach.

Ryan Houston, executive director of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and a committee member, said a preview of what Mirror Pond will eventually look like if the dam remains and nothing is done can be seen less than a mile upriver.

Upstream from the Colorado Avenue bridge, the stand of cattails and other aquatic plants near the spot where river floaters exit was once a dredged pond, Houston said, used by nearby timber mills to store logs awaiting processing. When the mills closed down and regular dredging ended, silt and vegetation reclaimed the area, he said.

“That’s Mirror Pond 30 years from now under the do-nothing scenario,” he said.

Figurski said that while the online questionnaire and accompanying outreach efforts won’t be a scientific poll of the community, he’s optimistic they’ll help the committee put together an accurate picture of what Bend residents want for one of the city’s most iconic features.

“You can do anything, its a matter of time, energy and money, and what you want to see at the end of that,” he said.

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

Management Board Minutes 1-18-2013

Mirror Pond Management Board
01/18/2013
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Board Room of City Hall

Meeting Notes

Attendance: Angela Price (Pacific Power); Don Horton (Bend Park and Recreation District); Mel Oberst (City of Bend); Ryan Houston (Deschutes Watershed Council); Todd Heisler (Deschutes River Conservancy); Victor Chudowsky (Bend City Council); Leslie Olson (River West Neighborhood Association); Jim Figurski (Project Manager; Bend Park and Recreation District)

Also present: Reporters from Channel 2 and the Bend Bulletin; Spencer Dahl (Old Bend Neighborhood Association)

Agenda: Update on status and progress of Mirror Pond Visioning Project Discussion:   Don Horton started the meeting with a background statement regarding the history and intent behind the current project.  Jim Figurski gave a brief PowerPoint presentation to the MPMB covering some of the history of past efforts and the opportunities and constraints associated with current and future efforts.

The presentation also covered the launch of the Mirror Pond Project website; www.MirrorPondBend.com ; a discussion of the ‘Questionnaire’ hosted on the website; the current request for consultant services to help create the ‘Visions’ associated with future strategies to address silt; and the project schedule.

The board discussed the outreach strategies presented and stated their approval

Management Board Minutes 10-3-2011

Mirror Pond Sedimentation and Enhancement Project, Phase 1A
Bend, Oregon

Management Board Meeting
MB Meeting: 03

Meeting Date: 10.03.11 @3:30-5:00 PM
Bend Parks and Recreation Admin Conference Room

MEETING MINUTES

Attendees

  • David Rosell
  • Chuck Arnold
  • Mel Oberst
  • Ryan Houston
  • Tom Greene
  • Mike Olin
  • Don Horton
  • Bill Smith
  • Angela Jacobson
  • Leslie Olson
  • Reagan Desmond
  • Steve Johnson
  • TodHeisler
  • Gina Dahl
  • Michael McLandress

Welcome and Introductions

 

Document: MPMB-Minutes-2011-10-03

Management Board Minutes 3-29-2011

Mirror Pond Siltation Project, Phase 1A
Bend, Oregon

Management Board Meeting
MB Meeting: 02

Meeting Date: 03.29.11 @3:30-5:00 PM
Bend Parks and Recreation Admin Conference Room

MEETING MINUTES

Attendees

  • David Rosell
  • Chuck Arnold
  • Mel Oberst
  • Ryan Houston
  • Tom Greene
  • Mike Olin
  • Don Horton
  • Bill Smith
  • Angela Jacobson
  • Leslie Olson
  • Gina Dahl
  • Michael McLandress

Welcome and Introductions

Progress Report

Outreach to federal agencies continues to take place to obtain expertise, support, and long-term funding moving forward

  • Delegation-joint letters regarding Bureau of Reclamation support complete and sent by steering committee (add that the joint letters were completed to request Delegation’s support in asking for Bureau’s support in funding and research, etc…)
  • Bureau of Reclamation contacted locally for support
    • Michael called Scott Bowman in the local Bureau office to start this process
    • Michael advised they have technical expertise and can hopefully help defray costs
    • Michael will arrange a meeting with Scott to discuss Mirror Pond interests
  • Army Corp of Engineers-Water Resource Development Act of 2011 (WRDA) application submitted to get foot in the door for future ear marks that may be available Don discussed recent meetings with staff from Senator Wyden’s and Merkley’s offices
      • The staff supports the application process to the Army Corp and will also provide a staff person to be assigned to research possibilities
    • Don was very encouraged by the outcome of the meetings
  • Ryan suggested taking up conversation with the Bureau of Rec’s larger office in Boise

Scope of Services-Consultant for Alternative Analysis

  • As part of his tasks, Michael (with the help of others) reviewed the Draft Scope of Services as part of the “Moving Forward” document completed in 2009 , and an outcome of doing this was the determination that by looking at alternatives, the budget of $500,000 could possibly be reduced, but by very little
  • Michael said it will be hard to reduce the budget when certain federal regulations still have to be met to obtain federal funding
  • Reviewing the scope of services and hiring a consultant (via request for proposal) will lead to a better idea of what the project will really cost

Request for proposal

  • RFP for Consultant is being drafted. Draft has been sent out for review to the steering committee and management board
  • Ryan asked whose legal structure will be used to administer the consultant contract
  • o Michael has asked all steering committees to take the RFP to their own legal counsel for review; therefore it could be a combination of legal structures
  • Regarding the issuance of the RFP and the administration of the contract, the Steering Committee has all decision-making authority, and will manage the contract and the budget. Bend 2030 is just the fiscal agent and will issue the contract
  • Michael sees the RFP going through a public RFP process since it is public money
  • Who has liability? This should be developed in a memo of understanding (MOU) between Bend 2030 and the Steering Committee members
  • Chuck asked if anything is driving a deadline to get started besides the deadlines Michael created, Michael advised no other major driving factors
  • RFP schedule:
    • Consultant services for alternative analysis
      • Phase 1 – baseline conditions determined and community engagement , 4-6 months
        • Hopefully the baseline conditions can be somewhat determined by evaluating historical documents online, which should be available soon
      • Phase 2-evaluating alternatives, 8-12 months
    • Phase 1 timeline (tentative):
      • Advertising-April 7th (this will be extended in order to review draft and put historical documents online)
      • Proposals due-May 19th
      • Proposals evaluated-May 20th through June 22nd
      • Award Phase 1-late July
      • Phase 1 completion-January 2012
    • Phase 2 to begin after Phase 1 is completed, contract modified for Phase 2, and when ready to move forward
  • Don voiced concern regarding funds, advising they should be in place before moving forward
    • It was clarified that money would indeed need to be available for Phase 1 before it begins (the amount needed should be known once proposals are received)-Tom recommended having a budget number together by the end of May in order to give time for Council review before new budget cycle begins
    • If money not available for Phase 2, it will be delayed, which will be conveyed as a possibility in the RFP
    • It will also be conveyed in the RFP that there could be a significant delay between phases, and that if for some reason it is decided to not move forward, the contract can be cancelled
  • Because of so many stipulations, it was suggested that a mandatory pre-proposal meeting take place with all consultants and the management board (and/or steering committee)
  • The goal of phasing was to get started, that way Phase 1 can begin even if money is not yet available for Phase 2
  • Mike Olin asked where money would come from for implementation of the project
    • There is federal funding available if the project qualifies, but those options will not be known until alternatives are determined

Outreach

  • Once consultant is on board, more public meetings will take place
  • Bend 2030 Website
    • Michael will be updating a website with information and links back to the City of Bend
    • Ryan asked about where people can go to obtain baseline conditions and such, since they will be asking for this info when developing their proposals (baseline conditions)
      • Michael and Ryan will get together to get data needed and make it available online, before the RFP goes out (hopefully a page could be attached to RFP with this information). It would still up to the consultant to research what is available and provide additional studies if necessary to complete the baseline conditions

Next steps after RFP issuance

  • Consultant review and selection
  • Funding availability for Phase 1 scope of work to take place, PM tasks 5,6,7
  • Consultant contract issued (pending funding)
  • Start Phase 1 (pending funding)

Key Dates

  • Next MB meeting June 28th (tentative)

Q & A and General Discussion

  • Mike Olin asked what would happen if community wants to do nothing
    • o Don explained that as part of the alternative analysis, one of the alternatives for review has to be do nothing, that way there is something to compare the other alternatives to and the community can see what doing nothing would mean
  • It was asked who decides on selecting an alternative
    • This is not known yet, but there will be many aspects to consider when determining how it will be selected
    • Angela commented that the community wants to know that a process took place for this, and that nothing was decided on a whim
    • Ryan commented that sometimes the most expensive alternative could be more likely to obtain federal funds
  • Bill Smith advised that money should be put aside for future sustainability of the pond, so that there is not a scramble to obtain funds when a need comes up again
  • David asked the purpose of the management board
    • Bill Smith stated the management board is a standing focus group, providing feedback and suggestions for the project
    • Although steering committee makes decisions, consensus is needed from the management board

Adjourn

Submitted by:
Brightwater Collaborative, LLC
Michael McLandress
Project Manager
Mirror Pond Siltation Project

Document: MPMB-Minutes-3-29-2011