Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bend Park and Recreation District board approves reopening of passageway at Bend Whitewater Park

Operational and education improvements have been made; design evaluation underway

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 2:02 PM

Bend, Ore. – The Bend Park and Recreation District Board of Directors voted to approve a plan to reopen the passageway channel at the Bend Whitewater Park. The vote occurred at the public meeting on July 19.

District staff presented information about the evaluations done after the recent closure, and recommended that the passageway channel is ready to reopen because of the operational changes made and improvements to inform river users about the experience.
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The staff presented a reopening plan that includes operational management of the passageway, removal of the boom, signage, in-person education, online information and media messaging. The reopening date is scheduled for Saturday, July 23.

“Water flow conditions have been changed, so it is very different experience than during the first hot weekend of June,” said Don Horton, executive director, Bend Park and Recreation District. “We’re also communicating with increased signage and in other ways about how to use the park, the proper gear to wear and the conditions that exist in the passageway.”

Safety education efforts for river users

The District is working collaboratively with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon State Marine Board to inform river users about safety.

An informational kick-off event will be Saturday, July 23, at Riverbend and McKay parks. At each park, District park stewards and members of the sheriff’s office swiftwater rescue team will talk with river users about proper equipment and preparation for recreating on the river. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will be information available and staff members and volunteers to answer questions at beach locations at each park.

“Preparing river users for what to expect in flat water as well as the Bend Whitewater Park is important and we appreciate the support of our partners to reach more people before they enter the river,” said Horton.

New signage along the river, as well as updated media communications and website information is also being introduced this week.

Design and engineering modifications being evaluated

In addition to operations and education improvements, a third aspect of enhanced functionality is design engineering.

The intent of the passageway channel design was to:
  • Remove hazards associated with the old Colorado Avenue pedestrian bridge and Old Mill Pond Dam
  • Provide for an easy transition from the Mill Pond elevation to the Mirror Pond elevation for a range of flotation devices, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
  • Accommodate fish passage upstream and provide habitat improvements
“Two of the three goals met the design intent of the project, so we have more work to do to meet our full expectations,” said Horton. “The design team has provided recommendations that will be evaluated, discussed and brought back to the board of directors at a future meeting.”

Horton also noted that permitting for any in-channel engineering or construction work may require more than one season to fully realize.

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