Paddle group pitches new Mirror Pond option

'Community can have its cake and eat it too'

Another option for Mirror Pond?

BEND, Ore. - While the Mirror Pond Committee sits at a standstill with Pacific Power over a leaking hydro dam holding back the water of Bend's iconic pond, it'll ponder yet another option brought to the table.

"We're seeking a somewhat more sustainable, somewhat more river-like approach, and a somewhat more environmentally orientated approach," David Blair, a spokesman for the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance, said at at Friday's Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee meeting.

It's a river-like approach that also maintains Mirror Pond.

"We're looking at this as an opportunity for the community to have its cake and eat it too," said alliance member Jayson Bowerman.

The Bend Paddle Trail Alliance proposal would to narrow the channel between the Galveston bridge and the Harmon footbridge to allow for faster velocity and less sediment build-up.

It also would involve taking out the Pacific Power hydro dam and building a new dam further upstream.

The new dam would maintain most of Mirror Pond -- but would create a river before the current site of the Pacific Power dam. It also would allow for fish and boat passage and whitewater rapids recreation.

Sound familiar? It's not far (in details or distance) from another project the alliance is already working on -- the Colorado Dam safe passage project.

Bowerman said the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance doesn't yet know how much the alternative option for Mirror Pond would cost.

He did say he believes it would cost less money than the voter-funded Colorado dam project being overseen by Bend Metro Park and Recreation.

"This whole (Mirror Pond) conversation has been quite polarizing," Bowerman said. "And a lot of people feel like they've been left on the sideline with no voice. We felt it might be important to offer a viewpoint that might allow people to get part of what they're looking for."

Those who worry about loss of recreational opportunities come summer are eager to listen.

"Somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 people use that river for recreational purposes just between July 4th and Labor Day," said Bend City Councilor Victor Chudowsky. "So I'm really worried the level of water is going to be low this summer,  and we're going to be hearing a lot of complaining about that."

Others think delving into a whole new plan with an uncertain price tag could be costly, lengthy and just not worth it.

"We think that the bugs and the weeds and the odor are coming this summer, and we'd like to see some resolution to this  The simplest solution is repair the dam," said  Tom Carlsen of the "Save Mirror Committee," who lives along Mirror Pond.

In the meantime, the Mirror Pond Committee will continue to evaluate the feasibility of taking over the dam.

Next on the agenda is paying about $25,000 for its own study on the costs of repairing and maintaining the dam.

The committee's next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 12th from 1 to 3 p.m.

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