Like us, you've probably grown tired of the endless history lessons surrounding the bend in the Deschutes River affectionately known as "Mirror Pond." The Pacific Power "dam," which has created an abnormal and unhealthy part of the river now full of silt, continues to attract the attention of folks who put the idea of a healthy river with recreational benefits below the notion of a shallow bit of water that, if the angle is right, may reflect a mountain. This warm, flat, now obscure part of the river is often touted as "iconic," because it once graced postcards and ads in the region in the distant past. This kind of sophistry is dangerous and really should stop.
Yes, it is fatiguing to hear about this issue once again, but now is not the time for reasonable folks to turn their attention to other matters. Like the torpid flow of the Deschutes running through Drake Park, the flat river supporters are moving forward with the notion that taxpayers should fund the dredging of the river. The unreasonable passion that some in our community have attached to the dredging is now flowing into meetings with public entities including the City of Bend, Bend Park and Recreation District, Visit Bend and private entities such as Pacific Power.
The dredging of the river will cost taxpayers millions of dollars, and ultimately, will once again kick the can of restoration down the road for another generation. Make no mistake: dredging is not a fix. No one is proposing that dredging is even a viable solution. And yet, proponents, in the face of this problem, continue to be motivated by their old-fashioned notions of "iconic" landmarks to support the allocation of millions of tax dollars.
We could make a list of the myriad government services and nonprofit agencies that would thrive with the receipt of these monies instead. But we don't have to. We are sure, gentle reader, that you can, in a short amount of time, think of at least one organization you would rather give these monies to than the dredger man.
Thankfully, Bend has changed over the years. We are an active community—socially, environmentally and physically. For this reason, people come to our community in overwhelming numbers. They don't come to Bend to stand with their hands in their pockets and marvel at man-made grandeur. Instead, they immerse themselves in the natural beauty that remains in the few places we haven't ruined.
But, perhaps we are wrong on this issue. Maybe the idea of a "mirror pond" that requires millions of dollars to sustain is something the community does want. We may never know unless this allocation of funds is put to a vote. While we don't support dredging, we do support the will of the community, and if Bend wants to allocate hard-earned taxes to dredging, then so be it. Let's have a ballot measure and really get after this issue once and for all. In this way, we can circumvent the back room deals and political pressure surrounding this important issue and come up with the very solution the community craves.