December 17, 2011 - Bend Bulletin - Dredging tax likely to be put to voters

Dec 21, 2011

December 17, 2011 - Bend Bulletin - Dredging tax likely to be put to voters

Dredging tax likely to be put to voters

By Nick Grube / The Bulletin
Published: December 17. 2011 4:00AM PST

“Stuck” might be the best word to describe efforts to fix the sedimentation problem affecting Bend’s Mirror Pond.

There’s no money to pay for a $500,000 alternatives analysis that was supposed to find a solution to the siltation. Meanwhile, the consultant who was charged with organizing that study has been let go.

Now officials are considering asking voters to approve a new special taxing district that would collect money for the project and provide a permanent revenue stream to make sure the pond doesn’t become a marsh.

It’s uncertain when that tax would be placed on a ballot, but some have said it could be as soon as November 2012.

“I wouldn’t call it a surprise,” Mirror Pond Management Board member Ryan Houston said of the recent developments. “We’ve known for a long time that there simply isn’t the money available right now to pay for the work that needs to be done.”

Mirror Pond was created in 1910 with the construction of the Pacific Power & Light Co. dam on the Deschutes River near Newport Avenue. Since then, silt has floated down the river and settled on the bottom of the pond, compromising its aesthetic and environmental character.

Over the years, discussions have swirled around dredging the pond, which was last done in 1984 for $312,000. But last year the city of Bend, the Bend Park & Recreation District, PacifiCorp, William Smith Properties Inc., and the nonprofit group Bend 2030 hired consultant Michael McLandress to create the framework for a wide-ranging alternatives analysis.

That study would look at everything from doing nothing to the pond to removing the dam near Newport Avenue and allowing the river to flow freely through downtown.

Even though a firm was picked to do that study, no one was willing to pay the $500,000 to move forward with it. The consortium that hired McLandress then decided to end his contract. It’s also considering scaling back the scope of the $500,000 study.

“We need to do some sort of analysis — that’s clear,” Bend City Manager Eric King said. “(But) I don’t think the community wants to spend that kind of money on a study.”

One option, he said, could be having city or park district staff members perform some of the work in-house and narrowing the scope of the study. He also said it seems like “all roads lead” to creating a special taxing district, though that’s still a nascent idea.”

McLandress is hoping that when there is money available he’ll be called on again to manage the project. He also said he believes officials should do the “rigorous” alternatives analysis he was hired to define because it would look at wide-ranging options for the pond. It also would include a lot of opportunity for public input, he said.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve come this far and have to turn around, look back and potentially take another direction,” McLandress said. “It’s not all for naught because we learned a lot in the process. It’s not like it’s money thrown out the window.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160,

Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2011

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