Bend Park and Rec: Foster Fell | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Bend Park and Rec: Foster Fell

What three things do you most hope to accomplish if elected?

1. Re-prioritize Bend Park and Recreation District (BPRD) planning and spending to more closely meet the needs of the taxpayers who support it. BPRD's own polling shows support for neighborhood parks and a new swim and rec center as paramount needs. I think we, for example, could expand popular programs such as community gardens. (I led a multi-year urban garden effort in Burns.) I would consider installing dog park lighting for short winter days. I would push for the formation of citizen advisory committees modeled after the City of Bend to ensure that the voice of the public is heard at BPRD.

2. Following the model of Illinois, work with the City of Bend to establish Safe Park Zones. We would benefit with improved safety and access for pedestrians and bicyclists. We would gain the added effect of greater connectivity within the city and with the external system of trails. Through my work as co-founder of Slower/Safer/Bend, I know that neighborhood street traffic safety is uppermost on our minds. I can't think of a more perfect way to enhance BPRD's mission and enrich our lives.

Less spending on moving automobiles expeditiously and more emphasis on revamping our streets as vibrant public spaces that support a vigorous mix of activities—why not?

3. Using humane, science-based, proven, cost-effective methods of wildlife management, we can co-exist with virtually any animal—from Canada geese to cougars. My activism on behalf of animals continues to reap rewards: We are in our fifth year of nonlethal control, and the latest goose counts show it is working splendidly. I helped organize two recent capacity meetings on cougars; as a result of these, I believe, the City of Bend will be directing ODFW to revise its policies.

What are you doing right now in service of the issues you're most passionate about?

I am now in my second year pushing two ballot initiatives that would give citizens in the City of Bend and the Park District the right to vote "yes" or "no" for a healthy free-flowing river at the present site of Mirror Pond. This effort is my way of creating an open public process for a Mirror Pond decision, where none exists now.

What is Park & Rec doing best right now? Where is it most falling short?

Programs for low-income children, family, and neighborhoods. The amazing variety of recreational and educational offerings. (I might, though, look at reducing fees; I hear complaints about these costs in my door-to-door campaigning.) Certainly, we as a community need to acknowledge the stellar work of BPRD volunteers and employees.

Is there a solution for Mirror Pond you most believe in?

My guiding principle remains restoration of the Deschutes River to a free-flowing river at the current location of Mirror Pond.  My ballot initiative would give our citizens a chance to vote for such an outcome.  The so-called "Preferred Alternative" that the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee has sprung upon us does not even pretend to address river health.  The associated redevelopment project renders downtown Bend unrecognizable.  We have, to date, no financial or environmental analysis, yet we are now asking for $5 million in State revenue to further study this project.

Do you think that Park & Rec should waive SDC for affordable housing developments?

BPRD should realize that the healthy economy that pays its bills depends on the ability of working families (including its own 353 part time  employees) to find affordable housing.  Certainly, the Park District should step up to the plate and do its part to help mitigate the housing crisis by waiving system development charges for affordable housing.  (Another option might be for BPRD to install showers for the people who will be forced to live in its parks.)   

What are the three most important qualities for a Park & Rec Board director?

1. Responsiveness to meeting the needs of all. This means open, democratic, transparent, unhindered public process. 2. Accountability; e.g., willingness to accede graciously [and] cooperate with public records requests. 3. Independence of mind and spirit.

What is the single most significant difference between you and your opponents?

I think the incumbent, Dan Fishken, aligns himself too readily with a status quo that, of late, disregards the true needs of his constituents. I know too little about Brady Fuller, but I do admire his willingness to step into the fray.

What are your opponents' best qualities?

Willingness to serve.  

How do you use the city's parks?

I value then as a refuge from ordinary life. I would be overjoyed with a BPRD-supported ethic that would increase opportunities to experience wildness within our growing metropolis.

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