Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Form LID to dredge Mirror Pond

Bend's official seal
The hand-wringing over dredging Mirror Pond in the heart of Bend is reaching sweaty-palms territory.

And, it's ridiculous.

The city has needed to dredge the pond for more than a decade. The last time it was done was in 1984 and it cost just over $300,000.

Today, it would cost up to $5 million. Naturally, a $500,000 environmental study would need to be done. Hearings and endless meetings would flow like the Deschutes River that is Mirror Pond.

The park district is looking at a one-time dredging plan or a permanent taxing district to handle future dredgings of all the sediment that builds up from the dam at the tiny hydro project on the pond's north end.

Of course, the park district, which has parks on both sides of Mirror Pond, is only looking at property taxpayers to fund either proposal.

But, why should property taxpayers shoulder 100 percent of the cost without any subsidies from the major stakeholders in town who benefit directly from picturesque Mirror Pond.

Obviously, all of Bend benefits, directly or indirectly, by having one of the most scenic urban settings in the state. The city even uses Mirror Pond on its official seal. Realtors and tourism groups use Mirror Pond in their marketing efforts to get people to come to Bend.

So, let's look at more reasonable, and inclusive, funding options for dredging.

First off, Pacific Power, which owns the dam, should be on the hook for a third of any dredging effort. Without the dam, the issue is moot.

Second, the Central Oregon Association of Realtors and Visit Bend, the local tourism entity, need to pony up about an eighth of the cost.

The city collects room taxes and a sizable portion of the money is kicked back to Visit Bend. Half of that money should go towards help defraying the cost of a dredging effort.

Third, an LID, or local improvement district, should be formed to pay it share of the cost. Those owning property downtown directly benefit from their proximity to Mirror Pond.

Also, an urban renewal district was formed a few years ago to make downtown Bend more attractive and the big "improvement" was a $13 million multi-level parking structure, nicknamed the "Taj Garage."

All of Bend subsidized the improvements to downtown Bend, but the main beneficiaries were the property owners in and around downtown Bend. Their property values skyrocketed and "grateful" owners promptly jacked up rents to force out long-time tenants downtown.

It's time for some payback. An LID should pay about a quarter of the cost of dredging.

Lastly, a citywide bond measure should then pick up the remainder of the tab. Those living far from downtown Bend benefit indirectly from the beauty of Mirror Pond and their obligations to dredge the pond should be scaled downward accordingly.

But, of course, these proposals make too much sense, and are too fair, to ever be implemented.


  1. Or the city could just let the river be a river and flow....

  2. Excellent and thoughtful idea. Too bad the "good ol' boys" will find a way to have the cost of dredging Mirror Pond put directly on the backs of the "little people" so that those with 1% money and/or residential property on or near the "pond" will escape with very little withdrawn from their bank accounts but will enjoy serious increases in the value of their real estate holdings. And Pacific Power will again escape any cost or responsibility for the silt build up in the pond.

  3. Wouldn't $5M cover an extensive restoration of the river, returning it to a more natural state so we don't have to address this issue every 20 years??? I don't get it, it seems so logical??