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Lay Off the Park 

As a longtime resident and active member of this community, I take offense at The Bulletin's attack on the Bend Metro Park and Recreation District.

As a longtime resident and active member of this community, I take offense at The Bulletin's attack on the Bend Metro Park and Recreation District. Once again The Bulletin is misguiding readers with inaccurate and misleading information. As a neighborhood representative, I attend 99% of park district meetings and have heard first-hand the plans for the new administrative building and adjacent park complex as well as those for the Pine Nursery and multiple other projects. The district has revised plans in response to the slow down in local construction which funds SDC's, (System Development Charges), the funds used for growth related projects. Because of this slow down, SDC's, citywide have dropped by 67%. In regard to the new office building, it sits on the upper end of the 14-acre Riverbend Park land, near, not next to the river.

Some citizens have made remarks to me about this land being worth too much for this office project that smack of "only the rich people should be allowed along the river." This park will allow more public access to the river with beaches, small boat launching site, and the Deschutes River Trail, riparian habitat restoration. The 21,400 sq. ft. office will occupy only 2% of the land area. Responsible budgeting has set aside money on a regular basis, (not SDC's), for this project. The Green Architecture of this building will further promote energy conservation and reduce impacts on our environment, conserve natural resources, and improve employee productivity. This new office will also allow for improved and expanded computer technology, ie, vastly improved registration services and customer service. It will provide adequate office space for recreation services, district administration and planning and development, and will allow for future staff expansion, and will provide indoor and outdoor public meeting spaces, including power, lighting and access drives for these functions. The outdoor fireplace will enhance the outdoor facility. It is not an employee "perk"!! As for the heated sidewalk, it is a matter of public safety. I didn't hear any complaints when Bill Healy installed a heated sidewalk from the parking lot to the old Main Lodge, at Mt. Bachelor.

The Riverbend complex will have 119 parking spaces, (with room to expand), no sports fields, but adequate picnic and restroom facilities. Bend's rapid growth creates a series of problems. Self-promotion can create an illusion of "what ever you need is already here." Not so. No matter how well planned, there never seems to be enough recreation facilities "ready to use." In the last five years, BMPRD has built 15 neighborhood parks, 2 community parks, and 3 soccer fields. Existing facilities have to be maintained and expanded to keep up with growth. Recently several million dollars have been spent on improving Juniper Swim and Fitness Center, and other facilities as well as adding/improving disability access, equipment and programs.

I recently visited the existing park administration building and was flabbergasted...Forty one years ago, when the district had four employees and Bend had a population of 12,800, this building was a mechanic's shop. Now, there are 350 employees, of which 91 are full time and the population is well over 75,000. Fifty of those employees, give or take, work in the admin building. This is not enough space to operate efficiently. Staff has run out of options to improve this situation. If you don't believe me, stop by for a visit. It is time for a change.

The BMPRD Board recenlty voted to start a partial development of The Pine Nursery in the immediate future. Wouldn't it be nice if neighbors, civic groups, churches, and businesses donated money (for fuel) and time; a local contractor or two donated some equipment and their employees donated their time. Together, under the supervision of the park district, they could build some of the fields and other amenities at the Pine Nursery Park.

What a concept !!

Another thing I have learned over my many years is that you can tell the quality of a community by how many, and how well maintained, are their parks and cemeteries. I rate Bend as an A+.

Mike Lovely is a community activist involved in Southwest Bend Neighborhood Association, Central Oregon Collation for Access and PFLAG and is a former mill worker.

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