Mirror Pond Dredging Could Cost About $6.7M

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Posted September 7, 2017

The owners of the land beneath Mirror Pond estimate it will cost around $6.7 million to remove the unwanted sediment accumulated over the last 33 years.

On Tuesday, Todd Taylor, who jointly owns the pond bottom in partnership with Old Mill District developer Bill Smith, appeared before the Bend Park & Recreation District board to share the latest on their efforts to dredge the pond near downtown Bend. Smith and Taylor purchased the roughly 24-acre parcel in 2013 from a family that had owned the property since before the dam was constructed more than 100 years ago.

The pond was last dredged in 1984, when an estimated 60,000 cubic yards of material was removed and pumped to an area near where the Les Schwab Amphitheater was later built.

Then, as now, accumulated sediment had made the pond shallower and warmer, leading to degraded conditions for fish and an explosion in the growth of aquatic plants.

The plan advanced by Taylor and Smith — and described in part by Taylor on Tuesday — would remove 75,000 cubic yards of material. Taylor said the partnership expects the Army Corps of Engineers to issue the last of the permits it is seeking around Oct. 1.

Taylor said estimates from last summer put the cost of removing the sediment at $3.3 million. The price has increased as he and others involved have learned more about its complexity.

At that time, Taylor and Smith were aiming to fund the project by asking involved parties to contribute under the same cost-sharing arrangement used for the 1984 dredging. Under that arrangement, Pacific Power would have put up $1.98 million, the city of Bend $693,000, the park district $495,000, and private fundraising would cover $132,000.

Taylor did not make a formal request for funding to the district on Tuesday, but said the partnership has secured $230,000 in private contributions, and believes it can get that figure closer to $300,000.

Park board members said they would need to learn more about the project before committing funds.

Board member Brady Fuller said he’d like to see a deeper exploration of whether material dredged from the pond could be used for expanding Drake and Harmon parks, potentially reducing the cost of handling and transporting the sediment. He said he’d also like to learn more about the mechanics of how silt accumulates in the pond, so that a park board 30 years from now is not faced with a similar challenge.

Board member Nathan Hove¬kamp said the district has committed to spending millions updating the bank and retaining wall along the Drake Park side of the pond, and that the board would need to be confident any money would be well spent before committing to funding a project it wouldn’t control.

Taylor said he believes the cost can be driven down further. He said the partnership has reached a tentative agreement with Deschutes County to use a portion of the sediment to bury garbage at Knott Landfill, a move that could reduce the $800,000 in dumping fees included in the $6.7 million estimate.

Taylor said he’s planning to meet with Pacific Power and city of Bend officials once the Army Corps of Engineers signs off on its permit, and asked the district board to consider signing on to a binding agreement with the partnership in the near future.

Source: The Bulletin