Thursday, October 29, 2015

LETTERS: Bend Surf Alliance—Lets Fix the Surf Park

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 12:11 PM

The Bend Surf Park Alliance wants community input about the Bend Whitewater Park. Here's the full letter that was sent to the Source Weekly:  

The Bend, Oregon Community is getting skunked. Don't let Parks and Rec sweep us under the rug! If you have five extra minutes, please help. Like us on Facebook. 

Bend Surf Park Alliance

Not happy with the Bend Whitewater Park? 
click to enlarge screen_shot_2015-10-29_at_11.32.14_am.png

Tell Bend Parks and Rec needs to be held accountable to taxpayers for not delivering what was promised and provide the community with a clear explanation for how they plan to remedy the issues surrounding the Bend Whitewater Park. There are a number of other whitewater parks built in similar types of environments around the world, many of which could've easily been used as a model for this park. In addition, a number of experienced designers bid on this project. Why did BPR choose an inexperienced contractor to complete this job and why are they continuing to use the same contractor to make adjustments? In additions, other parks such as the one in Boise and in Reno were completed for less than half the cost of the Bend Park. Why have we spent so much money on a park that is unsafe and not user friendly?

many of you may remember a few years back when Bend Parks and Rec set up shop at the Spillway to inform floaters of their plans for a new whitewater park in Bend. They needed support for this $29 million dollar project which would include not only a whitewater park for surfing and paddling, but as trail improvements, an new year round recreation facility, among a few other projects. 

The measure was to be paid for through increased property taxes equaling about $48 a household per year. Bend residents saw the value in adding a venue like this to our already outdoor centric town, but just Bend residents saw the value in adding a venue like this to our already outdoor centric town, but just barely; passing the bond measure 51 percent to 48 percent. Bend Parks and Rec promised not only a wave that would be surf able for kayakers, stand up paddlers and surfers alike, but also a save passage to replace the dangerous spillway for floaters, However, what we were promised and what was delivered we're two entirely different things. 

The measure passed in 2012 , and finally (albeit nearly six months after the originally planned opening date), the Bend Whitewater Park Opened in Late September of 2015. Many who had been anticipating the opening of the whitewater park for years, including experienced surfers and paddlers, were extremely disheartened upon visiting the park for the first time. What was supposed to be a set of or surf able waves, was instead a mess of boulders placed in precarious locations, making the wave not only unusable for all but the utmost experienced surfers and paddlers, but also unsafe for all users. Within the first few days of opening, there were reports of experienced paddlers and surfers becoming trapped under the current after getting a n ankle stuck between tow boulders. Not only were the waves unusable, but the safe passage was also riddled with coarse, abrasive rocks which, when traveled over in a flotation device like a tube or raft, could easily create a hole or worse, result in injuries to users. At least 17 points of concern have now been identified by users of the park and presented to Bend Parks and Rec. They should probably consider themselves lucky that no one was seriously inured or killed during the first few weeks that the park was open. 

After much celebration on the success of the park after its grand opening, Bend Parks and Rec has closed the park for what they are referring to as planned adjustments and will not re-open it until the next year. A group of concerned citizens have met with Bend Parks and Rec to discuss their concerns regarding safety and usability of the wave park. BP&R has since released a list of to do's on their website, which are supposed to serve as their answer to citizen's concerns. While it would seem that BP&R is trying to be transparent and make an effort to improve the park, the list of to do's doesn't give much of an explanation as to what improvements we can expect to see when the wave re-opens next season. For the the layperson, this list might as well be written in a foreign language. 
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