No wonder the controversy on the city water project never ends. At a city council meeting last month city councilor Russell, before a major vote, asked staff if a value engineering study had been conducted on the $35 million membrane filtration aspect of the project. City engineer Hickman gave a definitive answer saying how extensive that study had been and how the VE team enthusiastically validated the city's conclusions. The council then voted for the membrane system.
In fact, Hickman's statement was totally incorrect. The city in contracting for an overall value engineering review expressly excluded any investigation of the filtration process stating: "aspects of the project that the city does not want scrutinized by the team because they represent elements that, in the opinion of the city' cannot be changed...must have membrane filtration."
What is the possible reason for such a total misrepresentation? And what is the possible justification for excluding the largest cost component of the water project from independent value engineering review? If this were federally funded the value engineering would be required. A value engineering study must be undertaken before the project proceeds. Such a review might save millions. What conceivable reason is there other than that the staff realizes they have an unsupportable position that cannot withstand investigation?
The citizens of Bend deserve better from their city government.
I have lived here 37 years so I have had plenty of opportunities to appreciate Mirror Pond. As I rode my bike across the footbridge in Drake Park last week it really was easy to see the scope of the silt buildup...there's tons of it, literally. Whatever remedy finally emerges from the mucky process with the ad hoc committee it most certainly will be expensive. I fear taxpayers will be on the hook for it. The determination expressed by the decision makers to keep the pond begs the question "How much do you expect us to pay for keeping the pond?" "How long will we be paying...into perpetuity?" If the deep pockets like Bill Smith and Rod Taylor want to keep it a pond, let them pay for it! I for one pay enough taxes to the Parks Department and City without funding this boondoggle forever!
In no way, shape or form should costs to maintain this accidental mud hole be paid for by Bend taxpayers or Pacific power ratepayers!
What I don't understand is why they are asking all of Bend's taxpayers to subsidize the property value of those who own waterfront property bordering Mirror Pond. Couldn't these property owners set up a specialized Public Utility District to tax themselves (and only themselves)? If they want it so bad, they should be willing to pay for it in my opinion. And, as mentioned in the comments of another, related article, I am also interested to know if property taxes were paid on the land supposedly owned by the McKay Family.
If the McKay family owns the land, along with the past property taxes as someone else mentioned, they should also be responsible for the silt and dredging. And if Bill Smith wants to buy the property under the pond then he should be responsible for the cleanup.
Count me as one that would rather see the Deschutes flow free through Bend. In order to keep Mirror Pond you have to have the Pacific Power dam. End of conversation. The dam is nearing the end of it's life and needs to go. Mirror Pond belongs in the history books of the Deschutes Historical Society.
According to Neil Bryant, the Bend Park District's legal counsel, the only legal use for retaining the water of Mirror Pond is for power generation and ice and debris removal. There is no rational reason for Mirror Pond to exist.
If Pacific Power wants to sell it, there is good reason to believe that it is not economic any longer. If you aren't a Charlie Rose fan or into the energy business you might have missed that Pacific Power is controlled by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway. They know money and they know the energy business.
They would like nothing else than to dump it, as they are also responsible, if they cannot sell it, to take it down and clean up our mess. During past dredges they got away with only paying for a small percentage of the silt problem. Let's not let them off the hook. We have a great opportunity here, let's not squander it.
While Mirror Pond can look idyllic, make a nice postcard and beer label, it has proven unsustainable. It can smell, harbors invasive plants, costs us untold million to dredge every decade and attracts geese that defecate all over and make us bear the moral guilt of gassing them. As one astute observer noted, Mirror Pond is no longer the center of Bend's social and economic life.
If any private interests think they can repair, maintain, add a fish ladder to the dam, they are fooling themselves. Buying and selling power is a complicated game. There is a very good chance that if that is to happen then it will go belly up and taxpayers and/or Bendites would then be responsible for taking the dam out. Cleaning up the toxics associated with turbines and cleaning up Mirror Pond. That is not worth the risk.
From Maine to Washington dams are coming down. Communities see the natural and economic benefit of free flowing rivers. I am baffled as to why Bendites are letting their judgments be clouded by the turgid and dirty waters of Mirror Pond?
Let Pacific Power foot that bill. That is appropriate, as they and ratepayers have profited off it for hundreds of years. Pacific Power just took down the Condit dam on the White Salmon. They have experience doing it.
For Bendites, we get the release of a present bill of millions to dredge and save future generations from more millions and the headaches.
Look at the valuable land that is now all of ours and created by the dams present problems. I suggest add a bike path, a walkway and connect Tumalo to Mt. Bachelor. Let rafters, kayakers, swimmers and fish run wild through Bend. Use it to try and help fulfill the dream of the Bend Park and Recreation 9-86 Bond. That will bring tourism to the area and increase what we all love about Bend, access to recreation. I for one sense something sterile in our present river when I don't see fish jumping. Let them jump.
In Oregon, waterways are owned by the public. If private individuals care for the river I suggest a clean up of the Colorado spillway problem. Connect that to the Community instead of a dangerous bottleneck.
Mirror Pond is no longer the cultural or economic center of Bend. It is history.
I say let the river run wild and let Pacific Power pay for it. Anything less is foolish. Mirror Pond is a bad fish dream that belongs in the history books of the Deschutes Historical Society.
—Paul N. Israel, President of Sunlight Solar Energy, Inc
Letter of the Week!
. A noble point, Mr. Israel. The Deschutes River is the gift that keeps giving! And in that spirit, how about swinging by our office to pick up a $5 Crow's Feet Commons gift certificate to celebrate your Letter of the Week!