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Pacific Power pledges $300,000 to Mirror Pond dredging


Another step was taken Friday in the long-debated dredging of accumulated silt in Mirror Pond, last done 34 years ago.

Pacific Power, owner of the hydroelectric dam that formed the pond over a century ago, announced on Friday it’ll contribute $300,000 to the project. That matches the city and Bend Park and Recreation, bringing the current amount raised to $900,000.

The last time Mirror Pond was dredged was in 1984. The main hangup this time has been who will pay what share for the $6.7 million project, but other issues also have muddied the waters for over a decade, as some residents want the dam removed to restore a free-flowing river and others said no way for the city’s iconic water feature.

Even with the funds already raised, there is still a balance of $5.8 million. That will likely be passed on to customers of Pacific Power, in the form of an increase in the franchise fee the city charges the utility for use of public rights of way.

Matthew Chancellor, regional business manager for Pacific Power, said the company pledged last year not to raise customer base rates through 2020.

“What the dredging and the city council is discussing is a city franchise fee that’s charged to Pacific Power,” Chancellor said. “(Then) ultimately the customers. So if the city wants to raise franchise fees, that’s something we will continue to discuss with them.”

The Mirror Pond funding strategy group will ultimately bring further recommendations to the respective governing boards, the city council and park board.

Missy Mcintyre, who lives on the Westside of Bend, said she believes there’s a better way to spend taxpayers’ money.

“Maybe helping out the Eastside a little bit with development and with affordable housing, with kids just getting pencils at schools. Like small things,” she said.

“I think we need to stop being so centrally focused, you know, one small part of where we are, and having Bend as an entire community, east and west side, and really think about where our funds need to go,” Mcintyre added.

Park Board member Nathan Hovekamp said a broader project would have many benefits, if a fish ladder were installed.

“This project, the Mirror Pond, the dam that creates it, presents an opportunity to do something more for fish passage and more for a healthy ecology of the Deschutes River,” Hovekamp said.

The subject of wildlife and fish movement was briefly discussed during the meeting Friday, but it was ultimately suggested talk about a fish ladder should be a separate issue from the dredging.

Todd Taylor, a partner at Mirror Pond Solutions. which owns the ground underneath Mirror Pond, said if all goes to plan, the goal is to get started on dredging late next summer.

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