What should be the future of Mirror Pond? Candidates for Bend City Council state their opinions

September 14, 2014
What should be the future of Mirror Pond? Candidates for Bend City Council state their opinions

Editor’s note: The Bulletin editorial board asked the candidates running for three Bend City Council positions up for election in November two questions to help give voters a better idea of the differences among them. We asked candidates to limit their responses to 100 words. Here are their answers to the first question. Answers to the second question will follow next Sunday.

Question 1: Should Mirror Pond be preserved, or what should happen to it?

Position 5

Mark Capell, incumbent: The City Council and the Park District Board, including me, voted unanimously to try to save Mirror Pond. That said, I understand there is a segment of our community that would like to see the dam removed and the pond returned to the river. I believe there is a compromise worthy of exploring that will allow the pond to remain, the dam removed, and the river allowed to function more like a natural system. I believe this can be done without raising taxes but through public/private partnerships. In the end we all win with this approach.

Nathan Boddie, challenger: Mirror Pond is a jewel in the middle of Bend drawing residents and visitors alike to its beauty and history. However, leaving things as they are is not an option. If we do nothing, the pond will fill in with sediment. Dredging to prevent this would cost taxpayers many millions and wouldn’t fix the problem for long anyway. Most of all the taxpayers of Bend must not assume the financial burden of the dam from its owner, PacifiCorp. That would mean a catastrophic tax burden for our town. We would already have more details about the project if my opponent hadn’t tried to hide information from the public. I favor a hybrid approach working with the current owners to live up to their financial responsibility and leaving Mirror Pond at about the same water level but perhaps with even more areas to float and enjoy.

Position 6

(Incumbent Jodie Barram is leaving her seat to run for the Deschutes County Commission)

Ron Boozell: I love Mirror Pond. However, the Deschutes River is a thousand-year icon. The Deschutes River is beautiful. Nature is presently taking down the dam. No charge. Literally, Bend wants its river back. I will not spend public money to restore the dam that serves the pond. There are creative plans on the table. It’s time for rational and frugal and practical solutions.

Casey Roats: I support preserving Mirror Pond, but not at any cost. If a cost-effective method of retaining that water level can be achieved, I’m in support. I would like to see provisions for fish passage incorporated into the design. Preserving the recreational amenities the pond affords for paddle­boarding and floating is important. I’m confident solutions can be found. Perhaps a public/private partnership is possible to share the expenses.

Richard Robertson: We would like to keep Mirror Pond the same, because it is a centerpiece of Bend.

Lisa Seales: As a historic icon in Bend, I think Mirror Pond should be preserved in some capacity. However, I don’t believe maintaining the dam as it currently exists is the best solution economically or environmentally. Based on my education and career in collaborative water management, I am confident we can find a creative solution that preserves our iconic pond, includes fish passage and restoration of the river’s ecology, and won’t cost the city millions in continuing maintenance.

Position 7

Barb Campbell, challenger: After years of expensive kicking the silt-filled can down the road, I would support a hybrid with advantages for everyone. I envision a rock and earth structure that forms a pond preserving the character of our beautiful Drake Park and surrounding neighborhood, and allows the wildly popular floating the river and the Colorado Dam Safe Passage project upstream. I want this hybrid to create improved fish habitat by allowing for their safe passage and reducing water temperature, and to include riverbank and riparian area restoration.

Having the unsightly and defunct dam and powerhouse out of the way could lead to redevelopment of an area that should be one of the most beautiful in town.

Scott Ramsay, incumbent: Mirror Pond is an iconic element in Bend’s landscape and identity. I support any option that keeps Mirror Pond with a water level that resembles what we have today. I am flexible on the details that get us to that point. Whether we keep a dam, in substantially the form it exists in today, would depend on the cost to the community and taxpayers when compared to other options presented, including dam removal, repair, reconstruction of the habitat, long-term maintenance, or replacement with other elements, and who would be responsible for the financial impact of any or all of these options. Ultimately I would prefer a mixed-use solution that maintains similar water levels in the pond, combined with a lower section of free-flowing water over rock obstructions, but I am not yet convinced we can get there with fiscal sense applied. My hope would be to form a diverse shared-cost partnership with Bend Park & Recreation, Pacific Power, private funds and the city of Bend.

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An aerial view of a body of water.