Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Priorities for Bend parks, recreation

Does Bend really need another $40 million recreation facility less than a mile away from a huge, private enterprise that may go out of business in this wretched economy?

Uh, no.

The Bend park district should find a way to work with the Athletic Club of Bend to bring it into the public fold.

Otherwise, if the park district goes ahead with a new, largely unnecessary facility, it will put the Athletic Club out of business anyway.

The Athletic Club, with its indoor tennis and racquetball courts, would bring something new to the park district.

But, Bend's westsiders are known to get their way and it is up to the rest of us to try and stop this boondoggle.

The park district is presenting its plans for a multi-million bond measure in public meetings next week.

Among the projects, the most needed items are:

-- buying land for parks in Southeast Bend. The park district grossly under-served this area during the last growth spurt.

-- a safe float passage at the Colorado dam. This would be another big benefit to Bend's summertime tourism and also for the people that live here and like to float the river through the heart of Bend.

-- Deschutes River trail and parks. This is a no-brainer while land prices stay depressed.

-- Pine Nursery Park phase II would be good for Bend as it becomes a regional hub for organized sports like soccer, baseball/softball and lacrosse.

As for the park district's involvement in paying for dredging of Mirror Pond, this is a non-starter.

As I've noted before, paying for the maintenance of Bend's iconic place, belongs to a range of stake-holders and the park district is but one.

Those who live on the river across from Drake Park should pay more than any citizens of Bend, because they benefit directly from any improvements to Mirror Pond. Likewise, those who live closest to the Drake Park should pay more than other citizens because they, too, will financially benefit from upgrades at Mirror Pond.

The city of Bend, which is a separate government entity from the park district, should also pony up.

Plus, Pacific Power, which owns a small hydro facility on Mirror Pond's north end, should also pay for Mirror Pond's upkeep.

And, let's not forget the tourism organizations here. They use Mirror Pond to sell Bend to outsiders.

They should take a portion of those room taxes and pay into the Mirror Pond fund.

Anyway, the lazy way of just having property taxpayers fund the entire wish list is what will likely prevail.

Show up to the meetings next week and give the park district an earful.

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