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If you're trying to buy the dam, I feel bad for you, son

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Last Tuesday, Pacific Power announced that it intended to patch its leaking Newport Avenue dam and thus avert low flows and limited recreation on the Deschutes River this summer. The Mirror Pond Ad Hoc work group lauded the move a day later during a public meeting.

"I think we really made some headway yesterday," said ad hoc group member Don Horton, the Bend Park & Recreation District executive director.

"They've really stepped up," agreed fellow ad hoc member Mark Capell, a Bend city councilor.

The work group was particularly enthused because just months before—and despite an evenly divided community—it announced a preference to maintain Mirror Pond rather than force Pacific Power to remove or update its ailing, 103-year-old dam. To that end, the work group remains in negotiations with Pacific Power, hoping to acquire the structure, warts and all. But that decision—one that seems to give little credence to the dam's many liabilities—has made a growing number of residents increasingly wary, and many voiced their concerns during Wednesday's meeting. One such resident was Craig Lacy.

A river man, Lacy is the former chair of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, Central Oregon Flyfishers and a member of the Native Fish Society, and he's worried that the ad hoc group is approaching negotiations with Pacific Power all wrong.

"You don't tell a used car salesman that your family just unanimously voted to buy this exact car," Lacy said of the ad hoc group's announcement to keep the pond and then attempt to acquire its dam. "They're going in with their hands tied behind their backs."

Additionally, Lacy said he fears the ad hoc group doesn't fully understand the many liabilities and maintenance costs that are sure to come with dam ownership (see graphic above). Such knowledge, Lacy pointed out, could prove a valuable leveraging tool.

Yancy Lind, Conservation Chair of the Central Oregon Flyfishers and member of the Native Fish Society, highlighted one of the more modest costs during Wednesday's meeting.

"At the last meeting of the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc committee it was clear that some members of the committee did not want to consider fish passage as part of their deliberations," Lind said. "We believe that fish passage should be considered not just because it may be a legal requirement, but rather because it is the right thing to do."

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