Bend park board gets tour of Mirror Pond Dam

Rare behind-the-scenes look as debate continues

Up-close look at Mirror Pond dam

BEND, Ore. - A big metal fence usually indicates where your tour of the Mirror Pond dam ends.

PacifiCorp opened up the gates Wednesday for a special behind-the-scenes tour. They explained the facility to reporters and Bend Park And Recreation Board members. City Councilor Victor Chudowsky also was on hand.

"We have some gates that we call sluice gates, that essentially we just lift up a little bit, and that drains Mirror Pond," said utility spokesman Bob Gravely. "It's old, and in many cases it shows its age, as anyone whose ever seen it can tell. But at the same time, it is safe."

The century-old dam has indeed seen better days. The most recent leak found in October was just one of many reasons why PacifiCorp decided to pull the plug.

"We've reached the end of the line, as far as that goes," Gravely explained.

While PacifiCorp is ready to pass on the torch, the question is whether Mirror Pond is worth the trouble for Bend Park and Rec, or whatever entity would take it over.

"I think our biggest concern is the age of the facility," said park district Executive Director Don Horton. "You know, any facility that is over 100 is going to have some work that needs to be done, and at this point we don't know what the extent of that work would be."

The next step is a full inspection by Bend Park and Rec of the dam on Friday. For that purpose, PacifiCorp is lowering the water levels of Mirror Pond once again. After that inspection, the decision on what will happen with Mirror Pond is that much closer.

"Our goal, the goal of the city Council and the Park and Recreation Board and the Ad Hoc Committee, all three is to find a way to preserve Mirror Pond," said Horton. "Part of doing that is trying to figure out the condition of the dam -- what needs to be done to maintain the level of the dam."

While PacifiCorp and Bend Park and Rec are still in discussions, PacifiCorp is working on fixing the leak.

They say the $250,000 project should be completed in April or possibly even within the next couple of weeks.

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