No summer pause for Bend park board, city council

Busy, big agendas on tap for both bodies this week

BEND, Ore. - Summer may be a slow and easy time for some workplaces and organizations, but things are heating up this week with some big issues before the Bend City Council and Bend Park and Rec Board.

Even in the busiest parts of the year, few meetings are as packed with interesting elements as this pair of sessions.

First up – the park board meeting Tuesday night, starting with a 5:30 p.m. work session that includes updates on the $4 million Deschutes River Trail project and a $500,000 renovation of the Bend Senior Center.

The latter project has grown by about $250,000 in cost "due to a better understanding of the site conditions" and a desire to meet a citizen panel's priority to have a protected pickup/drop-off area, as well as a community garden and sidewalk connections. Staff will ask the board if they want to boost the funding or scale back the work.

During the 7 p.m. regular meeting, one big item will be a $3.62 million purchase of about 37 acres of land off 15th Street and the future eastward Murphy Road extension from developer Jan Ward for a future community park.

The park board also will be asked to authorize Executive Director Don Horton to acquire trail easements along the Deschutes River near the Colorado Dam Safe Passage project, which by the way goes to a city Planning Commission hearing Monday evening. A second, similar item on the park board agenda: Acquiring trail easements for the 14-acre Alpine Park, located just west of the Bend urban growth boundary on Swarens Road, by Tetherow Golf Club.

A link to the complete park board report, with background on each item, can be found here:

On Wednesday night, the Bend City Council -- which did skip meeting on the week of July 4th -- only has two items on its 5:30 p.m. work session agenda, the first behind closed doors as councilors hold an executive session on real estate transactions, followed by a discussion of legislative priorities.

The regular 7 p.m. meeting includes, on the "good of the order" agenda, a proclamation that declares July Smart Irrigation Month, noting that programs such as the WaterWise effort "are providing a downward trend in water use and an upward trend in awareness about this precious resource."

The regular agenda starts with a proposed new 10-year franchise agreement with Cascade Natural Gas that would boost the franchise fee from 4.5 to 5 percent, which the city issue summary notes could result in a "slight increase" in rates to customers.

Next up – a proposal for a year-long delay in a 10-year-old issue involving the former Juniper Utility area, taken over by the city in a messy process a decade-plus ago that led to a hefty court settlement paid by the city to Jan Ward (the same long-time southeast Bend developer mentioned above).

The city's planned surcharge on homeowners to pay for moving away from a separate irrigation system, objected to by many residents, has led to a proposal by two private water companies, Avion and Roats, to buy or lease the water system. The city will conduct a valuation analysis for the system during that year-long pause, before deciding how to proceed.

Councilors will then be asked to approve a five-year "enterprise zone" property tax abatement for Agere Pharmaceuticals in northeast Bend, totaling about $20,000. It plans to expand into a leased building next to its current facility on NE 18th Street, a $1.6 million project that would add a dozen workers to its current workforce of 33. A previous tax break led to a $1 million investment that added six new workers.

Then, councilors are being asked to approve a supplemental budget that boosts the city's 2014-15 original budget of $191.9 million by just over $70 million, to $261 million, in part to add 21 new workers (approved in May) as growth returns and also reflecting the new water and sewer projects (and higher rates) to the tune of $36 million.

Keeping up the high-profile theme of the night, councilors then will hold two public hearings on zone changes or amendments, the first to create an 88-acre Stone Creek master-planned development in southeast Bend that includes homes, apartments, commercial development, a public park and an elementary school site between Reed Market and Brosterhous roads, west of American Lane. The southern 40 acres is the site of the former Bend Trap Club.

The second hearing is on modifying the off-site improvement obligations and traffic mitigation requirements for 11 acres at Colorado and Simpson avenues, part of which is the former Mt. Bachelor Park & Ride lot, next to where the Bend Park and Rec District plans a recreation pavilion.

The park district is offering to pay $98,000 to improve emergency vehicle access at the Century Drive/Simpson Avenue roundabout, which the city will complete as part of its improvements to the 14th Street corridor, funded by voter-approved general obligation bonds..

BPRD also proposes a second "cash in lieu" payment of $83,000 for curb "bulb-outs" and rebuilt ADA ramps along Columbia Street to provide ‘traffic calming" for the neighborhood and boost pedestrian connectivity.

The park district also would promise to build a roundabout at Columbia and Simpson before anything is developed on its site other than the rec pavilion, and donate right of way to the city when that happens.

The transportation system in the area is being re-evaluated as part of a Westside "transportation growth management" project, to which the park district proposes to contribute $25,000 in funding.

Later on what could be a long night, the council is scheduled to establish an eight-member "temporary committee" to work on modernizing the city's water and sewer rates, to review the impacts of possible changes aimed at a fairer system (moving from flat rates to more of a system where heavy users pay more than light users of each system). The objectives discussed in recent years include rate stability, affordability and efficient water use/conservation.

The eight proposed members: Mike Riley of the Environmental Center, Kris Scholl of Deschutes Brewery, Keith Wooden of Housing Works and Families Forward, Andy High of the Central Oregon Builders Association, A.J. Tyvand of the city budget committee, Mt. Bachelor President Dave Rathbun, Zhai Logan of the Bend-La Pine Schools and Nikki Roemmer of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters and Central Oregon Conservation Network. Most represent existing city advisory committees.

The council's last agenda item would adopt amendments to the city code to use general fund dollars to pay for city-initiated code updates, developer pre-application meetings and half of planning general services (the so-called "front counter work") where no fee is collected. Builders had raised concerns about paying more in permit fees than their fair share for city work on projects they were not requesting.

Learn more about any of these agenda items in the links provided here:

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