It was the best choice, really.
After an internal vote, which was followed by a tie-breaking vote and jokes about Jeopardy theme music, the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee settled on three citizen members (from a pool of 11 applicants) at last Wednesday's Mirror Pond Committee meeting inside the Bend Park and Recreation District office. The three men will join the six other city and park officials on the nine member Ad Hoc Committee, the all-male group that should decide the ultimate fate of a silt-filled Mirror Pond and its leaky, 103-year-old dam.
Fortunately, the chosen three are more than just concerned community members and boast anywhere from "some" to "extensive experience" working with rivers. Here's a look at the three citizens chosen to represent:
Michael Olin is a retired dentist and 40-year Bend resident who has worked on the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project near Warm Springs. During that time he also worked with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which monitors, investigates and licenses dams, among other things. Olin was on a separate Mirror Pond committee four years ago and claims to have been the first president of the Old Bend Neighborhood Association. He says he's currently split between a pond or free-flowing river, but recognizes the Deschutes' importance to Bend.
"That's the reason we have a city here," Olin says. "Because of the river that runs through it."
Ned Dempsey knows rivers. He's worked as a civil engineer, specifically focused on hydraulics and water resources. Dempsey also worked for the U.S. Geological Survey measuring and analyzing flow rates. He recently sold his company, Century West, an engineering firm. Dempsey says he hopes to take emotion out of the Mirror Pond equation and add a bit more science to the discussion.
"I'm not good at politics," Dempsey admits. "Just give me the data—I can tell you how sediment moves."
Dempsey is also hoping to highlight the upstream and downstream implications of any proposed Mirror Pond solution. And he wants to take a good hard look at that leaking dam.
"Science and facts should guide the solution," he says.
Matt Shinderman is a known (and exceptionally knowledgeable and highly approved of) quantity. He teaches for OSU-Cascades' natural resources program and has been involved throughout the Mirror Pond decision-making process as a member of the Mirror Pond Steering Committee. He's also a Bend 2030 representative and an avid fly fisherman (and considerably younger than the other two gentlemen mentioned above).
"Dams on the Deschutes significantly influence stream flow (which varies up to 90 percent between winter and summer months), reduce stream velocity and disrupt natural sediment movement throughout the river system," Shinderman wrote in an editorial for the Source nearly a year ago. Shinderman is a proponent for healthy, functioning rivers and their associated ecosystems, but he's no doe-eyed idealist.
In that same editorial, he concluded, "(W)hen we dam rivers and alter natural flow regimes, at some point the bill comes due. We've been served."
The next public Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee Meeting is from 3-5pm Dec. 2 at the Bend Park and Rec. District Office.