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Private Parties Taking Lead on Mirror Pond

Posted on June 9, 2016

By Scott Hammers, The Bulletin

A private group is stepping up its efforts to find a solution for the accumulation of silt in Bend’s Mirror Pond.

Tuesday evening, the Bend Park & Recreation District Board approved an agreement with Mirror Pond Solutions LLC, a partnership between Bend businessmen Bill Smith and Todd Taylor. Smith, developer of the Old Mill District, and Taylor, owner of the Taylor NW construction company, formed their partnership in 2013 to purchase much of the land beneath Mirror Pond from a family that had owned it for more than 100 years.

Taylor said Tuesday the partnership has already been conducting tests of the silt beneath the pond to identify any potential contaminants, and hopes to move toward dredging excess silt. According to the agreement, Mirror Pond Solutions seeks to remove 40,000 to 60,000 cubic yards of silt.

The agreement states that Mirror Pond Solutions will seek to purchase the aging dam that creates Mirror Pond, and if successful, dedicate 25 percent of net operating income from power generation to a fund for future maintenance of Mirror Pond. Mirror Pond Solutions would also seek to purchase the powerhouse and adjoining land that can be developed, and construct a fish ladder at the dam.

Tuesday, Taylor said his partnership is not currently in discussions with PacifiCorp to purchase or otherwise acquire the properties, but is open to doing so if the opportunity presents itself.

The agreement, which park district attorney Neil Bryant stressed is nonbinding, asks the park district to pay the cost of designing rehabilitation of the banks of the pond to enhance habitat areas and discourage future accumulation of sediment. The district’s proposed budget for the upcoming year allocates $150,000 for the project.

Members of the public offered mixed views of the agreement with Mirror Pond Solutions.

Justin Rae, president of the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance, said the proposal presented by Mirror Pond Solution would cut out the public, and disregards the input given in past public meetings. David Paulson said he was concerned about transparency and lack of realistic cost estimates.

“The park district is losing credibility,” Paulson said.

Neil Conan commended the district for moving ahead on Mirror Pond.

“It took 10 years to build the Panama Canal, four years to build the Golden Gate Bridge, and 11 years talking this crap to death in Bend about what are we going to do about Mirror Pond,” Conan said.

District Executive Director Don Horton said although the Mirror Pond Solutions proposal would not include a replacement dam passable by kayakers, it is largely in line with the vision developed in past public meetings.

Board members approved the agreement by a 5-0 vote. Ellen Grover was one of multiple board members to suggest the agreement offered a possible path to a solution at minimal risk to district taxpayers.

“I think you’ve kinda got to bite off what you can chew, and this is a good start toward moving down that path,” Grover said.

Source: The Bulletin

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