Bend Parks-Rec looks to add flavor to river parks

May open some parks to snack shops; board wants more info first

Snack stand could come to Bend parks

BEND, Ore. - You, like many, might lug a cooler down to one of Bend's parks to enjoy the day, but soon you might be able to leave the ice and sandwiches at home.

"Maybe some Italian sodas, Icees," said a Bend COCC student at Riverbend Park when asked Tuesday what kind of vendors he'd like to see come to the parks.

Bend Parks and Rec is considering adding a new element to the summer park experience -- food and beverage stands to be run by private businesses. The park board discussed the proposal Tuesday night but delayed any decision until their Aug. 6 meeting, while more information is gathered.

Pat Bishoff just opened a new shaved ice truck -- 'Hawaiian Shave Ice' -- and lately he's been parking on city streets near McKay Park. He said he has approval from the Deschutes County Health Department to operate his truck, but he's not allowed to go on park property.

"We would like to be at Riverbend Park because of all the drop-off points for people getting in the river," Bishoff said.

But if the parks board agrees to open the public grounds to vendors, Hawaiian Ice or other snack shops could get prime locations.

"We're looking at being able to permit what we call a roaming vendor," explained Bend Parks and Rec Community Manager Jan Taylor. "So that would be someone like an ice cream cart."

The park district is also looking at allowing four new stationary vendors between Memorial and Labor days -- another paddle rental stand in Riverbend Park and a food stand, and one snack cart each at Drake and McKay Park.

Taylor said Wednesday morning, "The board recognizes that this policy allows staff to set up operations that could strongly impact park use.They have made it clear that they support some commercial operations but want to better understand the specifics around implementation of the policy.

"We will bring the policy back to them" at their next regular meeting on Aug. 6, she said, "as well as information on procedures to get their input before we launch the program."

Some park users say they see the pluses -- and minuses -- of allowing such operations in parks.

"There's some real benefits to just coming down and having something to eat or a snack or treat for the kids," said a mother swimming with her kids at McKay Park. "But there's the potential of a lot of trash and a lot more people, maybe?"

"I think it would definitely benefit the community, as well as the small businesses in Bend," said a young man at Riverbend Park.

Taylor said it's about providing more options for people visiting the parks, but it's also about better managing who's making money on public land.

Another popular use of parks is as a space for private exercise classes.

"Another option would be for a yoga class to come in and just get a permit, and they would pay a nominal fee and show insurance liability coverage," Taylor said.

Taylor said selected vendors would pay a negotiated fee to the park district.

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