Letters to the Editor 10/20/2022 | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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Letters to the Editor 10/20/2022 

Guest Opinion: After 10 Years of Delay, Let's Bridge the Gap in Southern Bend By Connect Bend Board of Directors

Ten years ago, Bend voters approved a $29 million bond measure for three great projects: the Whitewater Park, the Pavilion Skating Rink and the completion of the Deschutes River Trail via a footbridge in southern Bend.

Two happened – one didn't.

And that raises tough questions about inequality in Bend.

The 2012 pamphlet sent to all voters promised a completed River Trail with "[p]edestrian crossings connecting the east and west sides."

But we didn't only vote for a trail—we voted for improved outdoor access for southwest Bend, southeast Bend and the Old Farm District. The footbridge would also benefit the Deschutes River Woods, just outside city and BPRD boundaries.

That's 20,000 Bendites, one-fifth of the greater population. For 10 years they could have walked or cycled to the Deschutes National Forest, instead of driving six miles or more. Think of the carbon emissions reduced.

A minority of residents opposed the bridge. They called the area an undeveloped or "sensitive" wildlife zone. Surrounding the proposed site we find:

River Rim and River Vale: 585 homes

Bachelor View Road: 42 homes

River Bend Drive: 84 homes

And Widgi Creek: 107 homes

Opponents further maintained that a footbridge would harm species such as elk, eagles and the Oregon spotted frog. Yet no evidence of potential harm to species habitat exists. And, if the legally required National Environmental Policy Act review uncovered negative impacts, the project would stop in its tracks.

Today opponents turn to legal claims. A footbridge would "weaken" or "undo" state and federal scenic waterway protections. But experts agree: Building the footbridge would require no changes to state or federal laws. You can't "undo" a law if you're following the very processes its founders established.

Still, in 2019 BPRD shelved this worthy project.

On this 10th anniversary, we've released a study ranking outdoor access for the 13 Bend neighborhoods and the Deschutes River Woods.

First, we mapped the drive distance from each neighborhood to 13 popular spots – Shevlin Park, Pilot Butte, Alpenglow Park and more. Distances in southwest or southeast Bend are twice as far as neighborhoods with the best access. The DRW? Three times.

That wouldn't be so bad if one had outdoor spaces nearby. But looking at acres of BPRD land per person, southwest Bend and Old Farm ranked poorly again.

And BPRD wants to address such imbalances, as shown by the new Alpenglow Park in southeast Bend. But when the footbridge project stalled, no alternative emerged. Southwest Bend ranks last in terms of BPRD spending on new projects since 2015, as reported by Capital Improvement Plans.

Ten years from now, where will we be?

Riparian areas at Good Dog have been loved to death – areas that would be rehabilitated and protected by the footbridge project. Will they only get worse?

Southern Bend neighborhoods are growing. Will inequality of access simply go away? Will we urge driving over walking and cycling?

The voter-approved footbridge addresses all of these pressing concerns.

Let's stand up for equality of outdoor access. Let's bridge the gap.

—Connect Bend is a community group advocating for the voter-approved footbridge in southern Bend. See the study at http://connectbend.org/access.

Roundabouts

Does it really take any kind of an observation to realize that when vehicles use a turn signal to exit a roundabout the people that are coming in have an easy way in without waiting for a change in traffic or for somebody to actually use a turn signal. Then traffic can move smoothly like the roundabouts were designed for. So then why do so many people still refuse to signal out when they know they are going to be the ones trying to get in at the next one and are going to have to sit there and wait? Is this something that really needs to be learned? We can't all be that dumb.

—Jon Vanderlinde

Why I became a Democrat

I have voted in every election for 50 years and I have voted for candidates from both the Democratic and the Republican parties. I consider myself a fiscal conservative that wants to conserve our planet for future generations and give equal rights to all Americans. My vote was always based on the candidate's positions alignment with my concerns and values.   

The current Republican party has become the party of Donald Trump, his loyal followers and those afraid of Trump. After the former president didn't accept defeat in an election that has been proven fair in EVERY court challenge. Some of his challenges were denied by judges that he appointed, yet he still claims the 2020 election was "fake." Bloomberg News has stated that there are the 253 key Republican leaders who back Trump's false claims of election fraud. That number includes Jo Rae Perkins, the Oregon Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, who promotes the Q-Anon conspiracy theory, attended the January 6 insurrection and denies the results of the 2020 election. The Deschutes County Republicans and Oregon's Republican gubernatorial candidate, Christine Drazan, support all Republican candidates even if they are as extreme as Jo Rae Perkins.  

Regarding key issues, Democrats are offering solutions and the Republicans talk about making change, but rather than offering clear solutions they choose to just say no to the opposition's ideas.

Like most Americans, I believe the 2020 election was fair and therefore I choose democracy and became a Democrat.

—Joe Craig

Letter of the Week:

Joe—You get Letter of the Week not because you chose to be a Democrat per se, but because you sound like you're a person who does your research and chooses based on the merits of the candidate and not the party. That's the kind of voter I hope to see out there casting their ballot. You'll find lots of Democrats endorsed inside this election issue, and while that might appear to be a party-line move, it's not—it's because each candidate chosen has been heavier on solutions, lighter on the empty rhetoric and blaming. Come on by for your gift card to Palate!

—Nicole Vulcan

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