Just two months ago, it looked like the Bend City Council was moving full speed ahead to ban all open burning within city limits in an effort to clean up the city's air, but now it appears that a complete ban on burning yard waste and other debris isn't in the cards.
At last week's meeting, the council discussed an ordinance that would ban open burning, except during two days in November - a divergence from earlier indications that the city might ban all forms of burning. By the end of the discussion, however, the council decided by way of a four-to-three vote to amend the proposed ordinance to allow burning during the two-day November period, but only on parcels of land two acres or larger with a Fire Department-issued permit. The council has not approved the ordinance, but will revisit the item at future meetings.
Councilor Mark Capell remained in favor of a complete ban.
"We're no longer a town, we're a city, and it's time to step up and take air pollution seriously," Capell said.
The councilors in favor of the two day window (as opposed to the 40 days currently allotted under city code) said that it was necessary for the city's "rural" lots.
"The argument that shifted my opinion was that there are major pieces of land where terrain prevents getting debris off the land," Councilor Linda Johnson said.
The Bend Metro Parks and Recreation District is holding an open meeting to discuss improvements to the Colorado Avenue Dam, which has been the site of past rafting accidents.
The meeting is scheduled for 5:30pm on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at the Hollinshead Barn. The meeting is open to the public and district residents are encouraged to attend and offer feedback about the dam, which is located along a popular river rafting route. Last year, Bend Metro Parks and Recreation hired Recreation Engineering and Planning, a Colorado-based rafting park design firm, to evaluate the possibilities of creating a continuous rafting route on the Deschutes River within city limits.
REP's study found the dam was a major safety concern for rafters in Bend and designed three different solutions - one of which the district may choose to implement on the heels of the public meeting. There is, however, currently no money allocated for the construction project.
The dam has been a safety concern ever since the construction of Farewell Bend Park and the Reed Market extension opened the Old Mill section of the river to crowds of summertime splash-and-giggle rafters. At present, boaters arrive at the Colorado Avenue Dam where signs instruct them to paddle toward shore and walk over to McKay Park, where they can re-launch downstream of the dam.
So far there has been one death directly attributable to the dam. In July 2006, a woman was killed when she and a group of rafters were caught in the spillway underneath the bridge. The previous summer, Bend Elks baseball player Michael Wilhite drowned after falling off his raft just before reaching the bridge.