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Decision division: Mirror Pond's fate still murky as silt

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Jul 16 2013 10:46:26 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 17 2013 02:10:55 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent attends a joint city council and parks and rec meeting about the results of the latest Mirror Pond survey.

BEND, Ore. -

A full house of more than 60 people greeted Bend Parks and Rec and city councilors as they met to discuss the results of the Latest mirror pond survey on Tuesday.

"Regardless of the solution that's picked, we're going to make a lot of people upset," City Councilor Mark Capell in an interview Tuesday with NewsChannel 21.

Project leaders found from more than 1,200 people surveyed that 47 percent want the more than century-old hydroelectric dam gone and a more naturally flowing river -- but 43 percent say they want to keep it and thus keep the pond that to many is the very symbol of Bend.

Responders were asked questions about four different options: leave the pond as is, fully or partially dredge the silt buildup, or take out the dam.

Project Manager Jim Figurski  said most of survey respondents have lived in Bend for more than ten years. Most also live on the west side of the city.

Parks and Rec board member Dan Fishkin said the future of the pond is caught in the paradox of the future of the dam. Many community members don't want to pick an option until they know what will happen the dam -- and Pacific Power officials say they don't want to decide anything until the know what the community wants.

Capell agrees with Fishkin and others who say the ball is in the utility's court, as it has said it really doesn't need the dam any more.

"We need to know what their plan is," Capell said.

Figurski says now is the opportunity to deepen discussions with Pacific Power.

"Now we can talk to Pacific Power about the incremental costs of either keeping the dam in place, if that's the direction we've chosen, or the costs of removing the dam and returning it into a river," Figurski said.  "We've focused it down now to at least two options."

Another big issue is who will pay for the costs, as any major changes to the river will cost millions. And that likely means a measure of some sort on a future election ballot.

"The future of Mirror Pond will go to the voters," said City Councilor Victor Chudowsky.

"They (the voters) are going to be where the money comes from," Capell said.

Bend city councilors say tough decisions lie ahead. A preferred solution is expected in September.

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