Mirror Pond group to declare preference for dam's fate

Decision planned at next meeting; dam's ultimate fate still up in air

Newport Avenue Dam in focus

BEND, Ore. - Will the dam stay or go? 

It's an issue that's been swirling around Mirror Pond for months, some would say years.

But Wednesday night the Mirror Pond ad hoc committee decided it will announce its preference to keep the dam or get rid of it, at its next meeting, just three weeks away.

The announcement follows several rounds of public hearings and comments, four possible options, and discussions with Pacific Power, the owner of the dam holding back the water in Mirror Pond.

Both Pacific Power officials and the Mirror Pond committee members have been telling each other for months that they can't move forward without knowing what the other wants to do about the dam.

Options include leaving the pond alone to continue filling with silt, dredging it, removing the dam and allowing a free-flowing river, or doing a partial dredging.

Now, the Mirror Pond committee will make the first move, bringing forward a possible solution to Pacific Power.   

Bend Park and Rec Board Executive Director Don Horton said the committee's preference for the dam doesn't mean the group will ultimately decide the dam's fate.

"If what we strive to do is doable or not, is still yet to be told," Horton said. "There's a lot of issues surrounding the dam and the condition of the dam, that it may not be able to be preserved, but what I think will come out of the group (meeting) is whether or not we want to try."

Horton said he thinks the decision on the dam will then allow the committee to go back to the drawing board and create a solution that pleases the most people.

He said that could even mean coming up with a new option altogether to shape the area.

Bend City Councilor Victor Chudowsky told NewsChannel 21 he's ready to get the ball rolling on the project.

"I'm very frustrated, because I know we've been arguing now about Mirror Pond for eight years," Chudowsky said. "And I think things are coming to a head now because of the leak in the dam. It's really becoming decision time."

Mirror Pond Project Leader Jim Figurski said issues of water rights, landownership and the life of the dam are questions still being worked out.

As far as the life of the dam, Pacific Power officials told Bend City Councilor Mark Capell in an earlier meeting that they're still reviewing results from a dam inspection a couple of weeks ago.

Pacific Power officials told NewsChannel 21 at the time of inspection that they expect to release their findings about the dam in December.

Figurski said the land under the pond belongs to the McKay Family Trust.

"They're committed to Bend," he said. "They want to see the right thing happen."

However, Figurski said the family is concerned about liability with soil testing,  but is on board with deferring to committee decisions.

Figurski said he doesn't anticipate any lawsuits from the McKay family.

At the meeting, members also selected three Bend citizens to join the committee.

The next Mirror Pond ad hoc committee is on Monday, December 2nd from 3 to 5p.m. at the Bend Park and Rec building.

Figurski said he doesn't expect any final decisions on the pond's fate until after the new year.

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