Sisters looks to develop former ranch land for trails or wastewater projects

Sep 17, 2020

Bend Bulletin

Sisters looks to develop former ranch land for trails or wastewater projects

Growth in Sisters is driving city plans to develop 230 acres of former ranchland it owns west of U.S. Highway 20 at the southern entrance of town.

The city bought the old Lazy Z Ranch property for $3.75 million in 2006 with the expectation of expanding its wastewater treatment facility, as more people and businesses moved to the area.

Last year, the city put the land to use and started irrigating 50 acres with treated wastewater from the nearby facility. The remaining land is open for more wastewater projects or use as a trail, park or viewpoint.

To help decide the future of the property, the city is requesting proposals from consulting firms to create a Lazy Z Master Plan and identify options.

“It could be a variety of things,” said City Manager Cory Misley. “We are just at the brainstorming phase.”

Public Works Director Paul Bertagna said expanding the wastewater system onto the 50 acres was necessary as the city continues to grow. The city of about 3,000 residents is expected to increase to more than 5,000 by 2040, according to city data.

“Essentially, as the town has grown, we have more water to get rid of and we need more acres to get rid of the water,” Bertagna said.

When the city bought the property, it knew an additional 50-acre section to the west was not suitable for wastewater disposal.

More than a century of flood irrigation washed the filtering properties out of the soil, Bertagna said.

“We did a soil study before we purchased the land and at that point the soil engineer determined the western side would not be suitable,” Bertagna said.

The city is targeting the additional 50 acres for trails or a viewpoint of the Three Sisters. No matter what the land becomes it will never block the view of the mountain range, Bertagna said.

“The biggest motivator is to preserve the view coordinator forever,” he said. “It’s not going to be a sea of rooftops or buildings. It’s going to remain a very passive, open space view space for sure.”

As a master plan is developed, the city is partnering with several stakeholders, including the Sisters Trail Alliance, Deschutes Watershed Council and Deschutes River Conservancy. The city is also working with the U.S. Forest Service, which owns land adjacent to the property, and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

“It could be a variety of things,” said City Manager Cory Misley. “We are just at the brainstorming phase.”

Public Works Director Paul Bertagna said expanding the wastewater system onto the 50 acres was necessary as the city continues to grow. The city of about 3,000 residents is expected to increase to more than 5,000 by 2040, according to city data.

“Essentially, as the town has grown, we have more water to get rid of and we need more acres to get rid of the water,” Bertagna said.

When the city bought the property, it knew an additional 50-acre section to the west was not suitable for wastewater disposal.

More than a century of flood irrigation washed the filtering properties out of the soil, Bertagna said.

“We did a soil study before we purchased the land and at that point the soil engineer determined the western side would not be suitable,” Bertagna said.

The city is targeting the additional 50 acres for trails or a viewpoint of the Three Sisters. No matter what the land becomes it will never block the view of the mountain range, Bertagna said.

“The biggest motivator is to preserve the view coordinator forever,” he said. “It’s not going to be a sea of rooftops or buildings. It’s going to remain a very passive, open space view space for sure.”

As a master plan is developed, the city is partnering with several stakeholders, including the Sisters Trail Alliance, Deschutes Watershed Council and Deschutes River Conservancy. The city is also working with the U.S. Forest Service, which owns land adjacent to the property, and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

“We want to look at it from a high level,” Misley said.

Proposals from a Lazy Z Master Plan are due by Oct. 7. The city hopes to award the work to a consulting team by Oct. 28.

“We have to try to find the right team of consultants that can help us explore these different objectives we are trying to accomplish,” Misley said. “This is going to be more of a winter and spring project.”

Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com


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