Bend river floaters might not be sure what to call the former Colorado Dam "Safe" Passage yet (Whitewater Park Passageway?), but they sure know how to take advantage of it. An estimated 5,000 visitors and locals alike negotiated the passageway channel at the Bend Whitewater Park last weekend after it reopened on Saturday. Bend Parks and Recreation District had closed down the channel in early June due to injuries, burst tubes and concerns about safety.
After consulting with engineers, the district adjusted inflatable bladders upstream. This reduced the water entering the floaters' channel by diverting more water into the center whitewater channel, which is designed for paddlers and surfers with more experience and skills. According to Parks and Rec's Communications and Community Relations Manager Julie Brown, "Following the weekend, the volume of calls, emails and visits to the District have been much lower than in early June. Generally, feedback is positive and residents and visitors are better prepared for the passageway experience. We are seeing more lifejackets on children and adults, which is great."
(This writer negotiated the tamed passageway last weekend without injury, though she did experience a few harmless rock-rubbings in the shallow spots and exhibited brief spurts of frantic flailing to escape the doldrums after unwittingly eddying out of the main channel.)
Kids Fishing Pond Makes Progress
A proposed half-acre fishing destination near Camp Sherman is one step closer to reality, now that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has received approval from the Restoration and Enhancement Board for $350,000 for construction. If approved by the ODFW commission on Aug. 5, a non-operational fish hatchery site will be converted to a youth fishing pond stocked with rainbow trout, open only to anglers 17 and younger.
The pond's future is far from definite, however. According to Jennifer Luke, lead fish biologist for ODFW in Bend, there is some strong opposition from a few neighbors who may attempt to block the project at the August 5 meeting.
"I am not sure what will happen," Luke said. "If the commission approves the project, we could start excavating the pond in September. Then we need to put in a gravel parking area, single vault toilet and a volunteer host site."
If approved, Luke says the construction may not happen until late Spring 2017, so the pond may not open until July or Aug. of 2017.
Much to the relief of nearby neighbors and the Bend Fire Department, the City of Bend on Thursday officially opened the brand-new roundabout at the intersection of SE Murphy and Parrell Roads.
Monica Standen, who lives in the neighborhood, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony last Thursday and told the Source Weekly, "Before this roundabout, it was a two-way stop, and it was unsafe, especially in the winter time. If you didn't know the terrain, or the road, your car would skid out on the ice and you would just end up right in the middle of the intersection."
According to Bend Fire Chief Larry Langston, the fire department runs nearly 1,200 alarms a year through that intersection. He said, "We're in a business in the Fire Department where a couple of minutes can make a difference in saving a life... It's going to make a huge difference for us."
Bend City Manager Eric King commended neighbors for their patience during the construction, saying, "There have been many projects where the phone rings non-stop, with frustrated neighbors that are inconvenienced by detours and such. Not one single call did we receive on this project. That means you are all tough neighbors."
Summing up the neighborhood sentiment, Standen said: "We've seen so many accidents here, so we're happy that there's finally a roundabout."