Mirror Pond into mudflats

October 6, 2013
Mirror Pond into mudflats

Mirror Pond into mudflats

By Scott Hammers

Back in Bend for the first time in several years, Yaneth Beltran was eager to show off Mirror Pond for Joshua Mendoza.

What she saw when they arrived for a walk around the park Saturday afternoon was nothing like the place she'd described to him as the most beautiful place in Bend, but was instead, in her words, “ugly and smelly and gross."

“This was the first time for me, walking in this park in three, three-and-a-half years," she said. “And I was shocked."

Water levels in Mirror Pond dropped sharply overnight from Friday to Saturday as PacifiCorp opened the sluice gates on the Newport Avenue Dam to examine a recently-discovered leak. PacifiCorp spokesman Bob Gravely said the company intends to lower the water, allowing crews to safely determine the source of the leak, which will be followed by a comprehensive inspection of the 100-year-old dam.

Though information on the severity of the leak has not been shared publicly, PacifiCorp officials have said the dam is nearing the end of its useful life as a hydropower generation facility.

It could be one expensive repair away from being shut down — a step that could force the removal of the dam that created Mirror Pond.

Gravely was unable Saturday to provide a precise measure of how far water levels had dropped. Photos of the dam gauge, shared on a community website that compiles information about the pond and its current condition, placed the drop at about two feet from normal levels.

As the level fell, the river settled into a channel half as wide as normal, and sometimes less, stretching from the dam upstream to the Galveston Avenue Bridge, meandering from the east bank to the west.

Throughout Saturday, a steady stream of visitors to Drake Park lingered to check out the expansive mudflats that emerged overnight.

Peering over the rail of the footbridge Saturday, Ron Clugston stopped to examine a ghostly image in the channel below, eventually deciding he'd most likely found a shopping cart someone had thrown in when the water was deeper.

Clugston and his wife, Jenny Clugston, said they moved to Bend four months ago and were unaware of the ongoing debate over what should be done about silt accumulation in the pond.

Jenny Clugston said it was difficult to imagine what the park would look like if the pond were significantly altered.

“It's a drastic change," she said. “It's not pretty; I always thought this was the pretty park."

Bend residents since 1974, Jim and Vickie Flammang stopped near the midpoint of the footbridge to watch ducks feeding in the mud below, and puzzle over the original purpose of the now-exposed wooden pilings about 50 yards downstream.

Vickie Flammang recalled walking through the area with her then-young children 29 years ago, the summer the pond was last dredged. Kids from all over town came out to watch the dredging, she said, and to play on the exposed muddy beach.

Jim Flammang wasn't all that impressed with his view of the area on Saturday.

“I liked it the way it was before," he said.

Vickie Flammang said she'd prefer the pond remain the way she's always known it.

“But, we can't always have what we want, I suppose," she said.

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

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