When I moved here 20 years ago I felt The Bend Park & Recreation (BPR) District was a wonderful organization seriously working to preserve as much of the local outdoors as possible. There is no doubt that BPR has done a great many good things in the past.
There is a wonderful, undeveloped little park that borders Newport Hills and NorthWest Crossing. It's small, about a block long and half a block wide. It was undeveloped and frequented by many migratory birds, due to the large natural stand of tall Ponderosas.
NorthWest Crossing (NWC) is now building a new area of homes adjacent to the south side of the park. Months ago BPR announced a deal with NWC "swapping" corners of the park for residential land. The reason was ostensibly to provide better public access, since the present access is only through a dead-end residential street.
The swap has effectively destroyed the park. The road is built up high above the south border of the park, a massive dirt fill slope down into the park submerged visually 20 to 30 feet below. The usable area of the park has been decimated. A number of large Ponderosas have been buried 1-3 feet for four weeks. And if that were not bad enough, NWC construction crews have cut a large swath through the park, uprooting large trees, so they could put in a drainage tile for their road.
Is this the Bend Park & Recreation District that cares about Bend? What in the world were they thinking to allow the destruction of this park? Several years ago, in a BPR board meeting, I addressed the Board about the possibility of developing Bend's first "Bird Park", using business advertising dollars to support a nature park dedicated to the full-time and migratory birds that entertain us. The board didn't like my suggestion, but indicated it would leave the eastern side of the park natural for migratory birds, though they would develop the west side with a playground. Well, they lied.
Who in BPR approved the removal of large trees so NWC could build their road? Is BPR getting in the "get along and go along" mode? How on earth could any organization that cares about parks do what you have done to Sunset Park?
James Middleton, president of COCC, was in for a rude surprise when he invited neighbors to his housewarming party (6/26/13—a meeting to inform neighbors about the proposed 330-bed student dormitory. With only 150 parking spots, a new outlet onto busy Mt. Washington Drive, and a 55-foot edifice, the community showed the outgoing Middleton a very irate reception.
Middleton tried to defend his four-plus story structure by saying that times were changing and COCC needed to shift from being a Central Oregon college to one that attracted profitable out-of-area students. But the public, especially those living in the adjoining Valhalla subdivision, were skeptical that COCC considered the effects that 330 party-hearty community college students, in one big sleepover, might have on the nearby established neighborhood. The skepticism only intensified when the architect explained how by planting young ponderosa pines, they were going to camouflage 55 feet of concrete.
Neighbors were generally supportive of COCC's academic mission, but were less enthusiastic about COCC's profit motives for building the dormitory. Many spoke of the responsibility that COCC has as the landlord of a large dormitory. But Middleton was undeterred with historically low interest rates, the admittedly cash-poor but land-rich COCC is listening to no doubters.
Tell your city councilors not to approve the proposed July 10 1.4 percent increase to Bend's transient room tax. It is a bad idea and the entire tax should be repealed. It is taxation without representation. Overnight tourists are taxed to support Bend's tourism advertising. VisitBend spends the money without consultation to those taxpayers and its board is accountable only to the city council, not to the tourism industry for whom they advertise. These twisted relationships frequently breed favoritism and cost inefficiencies.
How to fix it? No more increases and repeal the current 9 percent TRT and replace it with a 6.3 percent visitors use fee to pay for public safety and roads. (Bend will still receive the same funds due to the 30 percent tourism, 70 percent city split).
Transfer control of VisitBend to an arts and tourism trade association. Their directly elected board will ensure that their membership fees to fund common tourism advertising will be efficiently spent. Let their self-interest and profit motive guide their business decisions, not the city government. There are seven tourism organizations in Central Oregon, they need no more money, let them share costs.
Celebrate American independence, tell the Council not to approve the increase and to repeal the TRT. Don't support taxation without representation. Let the arts and tourism industries control and promote their own business. Democracy and accountability will always bring the best results to grow Bend business.
I found it disappointing that the week of the biggest Pride celebration in Central Oregon history, the Source felt it necessary to write on the upcoming marriage campaign in an article that left some false impressions (presumably not intentional) and included yet another anonymously sourced takedown of the Human Dignity Coalition. In full disclosure, I was an HDC board member in the mid 2000's and served as executive director in 2011 and early 2012.
I will leave to others the analysis of whether winning Central Oregon really is key to passage of marriage equality in Oregon. I note, however, that by combining results with Jefferson County, the article creates the impression that Deschutes County voted 2 to 1 in favor of the 2004 ban on same sex marriage. In fact, 60 percent of Deschutes County voters approved the ban (with 38 percent against and about 2 percent undervotes). 60 percent is a substantial margin, for sure, but only 3 percent more than the statewide "yes" vote. No lost cause, that.
The article also portrayed the groundbreaking 2004 Bend Equal Rights Ordinance, protecting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community from discrimination, as if it arose spontaneously after a violent hate crime. In truth Human Dignity Coalition, supported by Basic Rights Oregon, spearheaded a huge mobilization, public relations and grassroots campaign to create public, and ultimately, City Council support for that ordinance. In the process HDC helped build a historic coalition of human rights, labor, faith-based, business and other groups in favor of the ordinance, the first such ordinance east of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon. HDC's many other groundbreaking accomplishments for justice and equality in Central Oregon could easily be gathered and reported.
Finally, the Source apparently could not find one single person in Central Oregon willing to criticize HDC under the Source's own name. All of the critical "longtime political observers, and journalists" in addition to the "former board member," insisted on anonymity. I do understand the importance of anonymity in getting honest comments on sensitive matters. But I think the fact that no one was willing to criticize HDC with attribution should say something to the Source and its readers about the continuing influence of HDC and the high regard in which it is still held in our community.
I read the feature article and consider myself socially liberal and have given my vote to the same-sex marriage movement all along, the article was informative. My problem came when reading down the list included in the Abridged Gaytionary. The Source felt it necessary for all to know what the term Santorum (n) means in the gay vernacular. My first thought was anybody of any age can read this free publication, even underage kids. Secondly, I envisioned many parents now having to listen to this new word being inserted into their kid's vocabulary. No judgment on the vernacular, but just a little too much information, a little discretion is in order. Just my opinion.