Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wrong time for Bend park district tax hike

 Park district's $7.4 million headquarters
With Bend still in the grips of the Great Recession, the park district is asking voters to pass a $29 million bond measure in November to fund a handful of things like an open-air ice rink and a rafting passage under the Colorado Avenue bridge.

All, but one, of the projects are on the west side. Yet again, no plans to build a park in southeast Bend, which definitely needs one.

One project would add a roundabout at Simpson and Columbia avenues so that OSU-Cascades can develop a four-year university at the old Mt. Bachelor parking lot. The idea of converting the Shevlin Center, a lagging business park, into a scattered college campus is ill-advised, to say the least. Central Oregon Community College, where OSU-Cascades currently resides, should be the permanent site of a four-year university.

An open-air ice rink has never worked in Bend at Juniper Park or at Shevlin Park, which is way west of downtown. The only "successful" open-air rink is at the Inn of the 7th Mountain and that's five miles out of town towards the Cascades.

In 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession, the park district squandered $7.4 million on a "state-of-the-art" administration building that the public didn't vote on and didn't want.

The big problem with the bond measure, though, is that foreclosures, bankruptcies and default notices still fill the classified section on a daily basis. Bend residents are suffering financially. It's too soon to ask residents to pay such a huge amount on a handful of park projects.

This town has too many more important issues to address -- like roads, sewer, water, sidewalks, storm drains, schools, etc. -- before the park district grabs an even bigger slice of that shrinking financial pie.


  1. While I agree that this is a bad time to ask voters to pony up more money - especially for a "you've got to be kidding me" item like a ice skating rink - I disagree with you on two points. One, it's way past time to fix the Colorado Street bridge death trap and two, although it shouldn't be the Park & Rec District paying for a roundabout, having a separate location for a four-year university away from our Community College makes huge sense. COCC needs room to grow as does OSU-Cascades and there is simply not enough room on Awbrey Butte for future growth. Why not begin converting an existing "failed" business park into a successful college campus?

  2. I think this whole notion of OSU expansion is nothing more than a big real estate deal benefiting the city and the implications and impacts colleges have on small towns has not been thoroughly thought through. OSU is looking at out of state tuition and big research money. The Old Mill district is the worst location to even imagine a college. The Colorado bridge is a safety issue and needs to be fixed regardless whether a parks or city funds it. A bond paid for by the taxpayers who are already paying is inappropriate.

    1. Yes, the OSU Cascades expansion is a real estate deal to benefit the few at the expense of the many. I'll be writing on this issue in a future post.

    2. Xray, I'm interested in how OSU-Cascades expansion is a RE deal that will benefit the few at the expense of the many. If this is truly the case then please get the information out sooner than later. I wonder who the people and businesses are who have pledged over a million dollars for this idea. Are there conflicts of interest or other problems with this fund raising effort?