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Bend councilors eye future of Mirror Pond, Juniper Ridge


The Bend City Council is taking a closer look at how to fund long-debated Mirror Pond dredging. But it may not be any easier than how to fund moving hundreds of southeast Bend residents from septic systems to sewers, or how to spur development of the city’s Juniper Ridge property while also dealing with the issue of homeless people living in camps there.

All three topics were debated at a busy council work session Wednesday evening — and later, the sticky political issue of colleague Nathan Boddie also came up once again.

First, the council was presented a list of 15 different options to fund the dredging of Bend’s iconic pond, which has been collecting sediment for years, and needs to be dredged to allow for proper water flow.

Mirror Pond was last dredged in 1984, and that was funded by the city, the Bend Parks and Recreation District and citizens.

Now it’s time to dredge again, and the City Council’s looking to partner with the park district to get the project done, after years of discussion and debate. Pacific Power, which owns the hydroelectric dam that formed the pond over a century ago, may play a key role as well.

City Manager Eric King said there are so many interested parties in Mirror Pond, it’s important everyone’s involved in its future.

“We all have some interest in deciding how to handle Mirror Pond,” King said. “Parks has Drake Park that is right near it, so obviously they are a significant landowner. I think the city, it’s a community asset that we need to talk about in how we manage it, and I think the property owners along Mirror Pond are also vested.”

Councilors recommended taking a closer look at four funding options: a franchise fee increase, cash contributions or in-kind contributions, a general fund contribution and a user fee.

They did not elaborate on what a user fee would entail, and took none of the funding options off the table — except for three not currently legal. See here for the list drafted for council consideration.

Talk of Juniper Ridge future: What to do about homeless campers?

The City Council also took up the topic of Juniper Ridge once again.

The 500-acre publicly owned land on the northeast end of Bend is zoned for industrial use and the city, which owns it, has been discussing how they would like to move forward with the land. After development was stalled for years, several parcels have been sold in recent years, but infrastructure issues have kept the pace slow.

The council agreed it would like to devote a city staff member to the project, and have them work alongside two councilors to come up with a way to best manage the land.

The issues in front of them include public safety and health, city needs and wildlife and fire safety in the area.

Another issue that was brought forward and wrestled with for some time Wednesday night was that of homeless camps currently scattered on the land. The council directed staff to look closer into removal options for those camps.

Councilor Nathan Boddie said they want to be careful not to just move the people to other parts of the city, if there’s no place for them to go. Colleague Sally Russell said cities all over the West Coast are dealing with similar issues, as court rulings have protected homeless people’s rights, and it’s also an issue on other public lands around the High Desert.

Councilor Bruce Abernethy said he wants the city to look at the lessons learned in a similar recent removal of homeless campers from property east of Redmond.

Septic to sewer talk: Who pays what?

The third work session topic was just as sticky and tricky, if not more so: getting hundreds of homes annexed decades ago off septic systems and onto sewer, while providing a safety net for the spendy costs.

A consultant went into the details of how several other Northwest cities have dealt with similar efforts — how the cost was split between the affected residents and the rest of the city, with options such as connection fees and local improvement districts (LIDs).

How the rest of the city benefits from moving residents off septic and onto sewer was a key topic. Councilor Barb Campbell said the issue actually affects about 10 percent of the city’s homes.

“It’s just huge — it’s like a hurricane,” Campbell said, knitting through the council meeting. “Of course, the whole city benefits by these people not being crushed financially.”

More work sessions are coming up, the next in two weeks digging deep into the financial rate model. King said he hopes the city can have some big decisions made by year’s end, at least a framework to give the residents some certainty, with “lots of execution after that.”

Campbell asks council to censure Boddie

Campbell also returned at the end of the meeting to one more sticky issue: Boddie remaining on the council and on the House District 54 ballot in November, despite a firestorm of controversy months ago over sexual harassment allegations and his sharp criticism of a woman who accused him of a groping incident six years ago.

Councilors apparently have limited options when it comes to action against colleagues, but Campbell said she wants to see if a majority of councilors are willing to issue a censure of Boddie.

As Boddie sat silently two seats away, separated by colleague Justin Livingston, Campbell said the Welcoming City campaign now underway “really got me thinking about role models and doing everything we can to clean up our little part of the world.”

“I don’t think all citizens feel welcoming, visiting their own city council at our own City Hall,” she said. “I know it (censure) is a symbolic slap on the wrist, but I happen to think Dr. Boddie deserves it.”

Mayor Casey Roats told Campbell she’s free to add it to the next council meeting agenda, if she wants. City Attorney Mary Winters repeated her earlier comment that “it would be a stretch” to do such a censure, under the council’s current rules, but also noted, “they are your rules.”

“We could change the rules,” Campbell said.

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