Janaury 4, 2010 - Bend Bulletin Colorado Avenue Dam May Get $17M Upgrade

Jan 04, 2010

Janaury 4, 2010 - Bend Bulletin Colorado Avenue Dam May Get $17M Upgrade

Colorado Avenue dam may get $1.7M upgrade

By Erin Golden / The Bulletin
Published: January 04. 2010 4:00AM PST

A $1.7 million project that would create a safe floating passage and whitewater play area at the Colorado Avenue dam is back on the agenda this week for the Bend Park & Recreation District board.

On Tuesday, the board is scheduled to vote on a report that outlines a handful of options and recommends solutions for the spillway over the dam on the Deschutes River, located north of the Old Mill District. Officials have been looking into creating a continuous paddle trail through the area for several years and have focused on the Colorado dam because of potential safety hazards. Two people have died in the area in the last five years.

The preferred option would have a channel for boaters on the left side of the river along the McKay Park riverbank, according to park district documents from Planning and Development Director Bruce Ronning and Design Manager Robin Laughlin. It would also create a whitewater channel with three drops and a separated habitat area.

The option was favored by a majority of the people who attended a public meeting on the issue in October, according to the documents.

The project is still in the preliminary stages, and the district did not set aside money for it in its current five-year capital improvement plan. The district is considering seeking private funding or grants to help fund the project.

Also Tuesday, in a work session before its regular meeting, the board is scheduled to discuss how the district uses funding from fees charged to developers.

System development charges are paid by developers of new construction to help fund growth-related improvements. Since 1997, when the district began imposing the fees, it has used more than $28 million in SDC fees to help develop and expand neighborhood, community and regional parks and some trails.

Last year, the board voted to hold off on a proposed SDC rate increase, citing potential negative impact on people already hit hard by the economic downturn. Instead, the board opted to phase in higher SDC rates over the next few years. For single-family homes, SDCs are currently charged at a rate of $3,507 and will remain at that level until July, and then will go up by $663 each year for four years until they reach a limit of $6,158 in 2013.

Recently, district officials have warned that delaying an increase to SDCs could reduce the district’s level of service. This year, officials expect to end the year with about $1.9 million in the SDC fund. Next year, that number is projected to drop to about $154,000, and by the end of the 2011-12 fiscal year, the fund is projected to have a negative balance. The specific ratio of park acres per person in the future will be dependent on population growth.

According to documents from Ronning and Executive Director Don Horton, the board is expected to discuss whether it wants to maintain the gradual step-up fee schedule or opt for a new strategy.

A vote on the issue is not scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting.

Erin Golden can be reached at 541-617-7837 or at egolden@bendbulletin.com.


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