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Mirror Pond neighbors weigh in on disputed project

By Matt McDonald
Kandra Kent
Published On: Feb 14 2013 02:12:21 AM CST

Neighbors say they want the pond dredged, but are also open to compromises.

BEND, Ore. -

Dredge out the silt, or pull out the century-old dam and let Mirror Pond return to a more natural-flowing Deschutes River? Those are two of the options Bend community members are being asked to consider.

And perhaps nobody has more on the line than the homeowners fronting Bend's icon.

"It's an icon to the city of Bend, and it needs to stay there," homeowner and Brooks Resources CEO Mike Hollern said at a meeting for Mirror Pond neighbors held at the Bend Park and Rec headquarters Wednesday evening, the third of three community-input meetings over the past couple of weeks.

"I'm very skeptical of the whole process," said another homeowner.

Others expressed concern that the largest landowner, Bend Parks and Rec, is leading the project.

"There's an inherent conflict of interest, because Bend Parks and Rec may have their own ideas on what they'd like to see done," said a man attending the meeting.

Silt is building up, turning parts of the pond into a mudflat when the water runs low. The last time it was dredged was in 1984.

Some neighbors said they would be willing to fork over some of the costs to dredge the pond.

"I think it's fair that we would pay, through a local improvement district with an assessment over a period of years, some portion of the cost," Hollern said.

While most neighbors want to see the pond dredged again, there is apparently fairly equal passion among those who say the dam should be removed.

The answer may lie somewhere in the middle

Project Manager Jim Figurski said it's likely the pond will neither be fully dredged or completely turned back into a free-flowing river.

"One, to dredge fully would be very costly," Figurski said.  "And on the other end, this isn't the wild and scenic river, it's in the middle of an urban cityscape, and so it will never be a wild and scenic river again."

While some neighbors said they shudder at the thought of a swampy river clearing out their peaceful pond, they're open to some compromises.

"I think it could change quite a little bit. There are areas where big wide expansions could even be filled in," Hollern said.

For now, what will happen to Bend's icon and who will pay for it is still as murky as the very pond filling with silt.

If you want your voice to be heard, just head to the website mirrorpondbend.com .

You can fill out the questionnaire between now and the end of the month. Already, more than 1,300 people have taken the survey.

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