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Bend Park and Rec begins riverfront park projects, seeks public input on designs for next phase

(Update: Adding video, quotes from BPRD project manager)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Bend Park and Recreation District is in the midst of a series of improvements at its riverfront parks, where increased use has caused river bank and habitat issues. With projects now underway at Drake and Riverbend parks, BPRD asked for public input Wednesday on design concepts to improve access at McKay, Miller’s Landing and Columbia parks.

"Each four of the access locations at McKay, Miller's Landing and Columbia have a specific use pattern we're currently seeing today," said Project Manager Ian Isaacson said during a riverfront visit on Wednesday.

"Here at the boardwalk at Miller's, one of the uses that we are enhancing and encourage folks to use it for watercraft launching."

In 2020, BPRD, which owns and manages eight miles of riverfront property, embarked on a two-year planning process to best manage the increased recreational river use and improve the experience for all users at these parks and protect the surrounding river bank and habitat, the district said in a news release. The Deschutes River Access & Habitat Restoration Plan identified 28 projects over the next decade or so.

Three individual projects from the river plan (projects #20, #21 and #22), have been combined into a single, larger project: the McKay, Miller’s Landing and Columbia Park’s River Access Project (MMC), which include four river access points, to manage the increased recreational river use and improve the experience for all users.

"So, rather than do three individual projects with three separate permitting processes and three different design processes, we felt it was much more efficient and better use of resources to lump these three locations into a single project given how near they are to each other" Isaacson explained.

Community input about these initial design concepts is being collected via:

The first public input session is Wednesday, Feb. 1 from 10 a.m. to noon or from 5 to 7 p.m. at the BPRD Community Room, 799 SW Columbia St. in Bend. Spanish language interpretation services will be provided.

The public's input is something Isaacson is looking forward to: "What we're going to do is get feedback from the public, use our comprehensive plan, our river plan, the opportunities and constraints of each location and develop a preferred concept, so a single concept for each of these locations."

Two initial concepts are provided for each river access location and are intended to present the widest range of possible solutions. Timing and funding sources are yet to be determined and are likely years from being realized, according to Isaacson, a BPRD landscape architect.

“BPRD’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan identifies ‘areas to access the river’ as a high community need, and improved access at these three parks for a site-specific appropriate combination of water craft launching, wading, swimming and hanging out by the river would go a long way in addressing that need,” said Isaacson.

The park district has completed the initial phase of work, which included site surveys, data collection and development of initial concept drawings. The initial concepts were developed based on data collected at each location, the opportunities and constraints of each site, BPRD planning documents, and from recommendations by the team of external consultants.

At Tuesday night's Bend Park and Rec Board meeting, additional funding was approved to further refine the concept designs with public input being gathered now. Partial funding for phase one of this project was provided by the Oregon State Marine Board Waterway Access Grant Program, investing 10-foot and longer nonmotorized boat permit fees paid by nonmotorized boaters for boating facility improvements.

The public input will assist the project team in the development of a preferred concept design for each location this summer.

To learn more about the project, visit

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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