I recently visited hundreds of homes to educate ordinary citizens on the horrors of SWIPE (Surface Water Improvement Plan Exposed) and to expose the politicians and bureaucrats responsible for the mess.
I met a lot of terrific people along the way who don't deserve atrocities like SWIPE, and they certainly have no way to pay for wasted millions caused by an arrogant city who forgot "the little guy" many years ago. Some were knowledgeable and offered solutions; Most were just shocked and dismayed that the city could be so reckless with their money.
One contractor suggested that the city "should take a breather" to revisit SWIPE, the defunct $7 million urban growth boundary expansion plan, and the city's failed experiment at Juniper Ridge. The goal of some fresh air would be to dramatically scale back or eliminate these travesties entirely under the auspices and direct control of regular everyday citizens.
A blueprint for each failed project follows:
The City has been served with an injunction to halt this project by a federal court judge, and it's likely that Bend will face a summary judgement after mediation fails to accomplish anything but tens of thousands of dollars wasted on greedy lawyers. That's the way Bend rolls.
While the City has threatened to consider the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, that would infuriate most of us and Bend would lose again.
A better approach might be to refurbish the Juniper Utility well, serving up to 1,200 families, and bring it back on line. Then, reduce the amount of surface water taken from Bridge Creek to eliminate the turbid return of unused resources while protecting the environment and fish.
Sink another well in Juniper Ridge to serve Bend's northside if necessary, as that property is not good for anything else. (Ditto a sewer treatment facility as Juniper Ridge already has a bad odor.)
Maintain the pipeline from the 1950s and gradually retire the 1920's system.
Bar the city's inept consultant, HDR, from ever working in Central Oregon again, and demand repayment of all fees associated with this project for badly flawed work.
Terminate the top 10 to 12 city managers who created and perpetuated this disaster including department heads in legal, finance, and public works, etc.
Finally, sell the entire city water system in equal pieces over 10 years to private enterprises, starting with Juniper Water Utility, and utilize the proceeds to underwrite sewer infrastructure without any debt.
Now that the city has not recorded a sale at Juniper Ridge for four years, Finance Department head Sonia Andrews recently announced that she'll cover $5 million in debt with new taxes! What a novel approach to underwrite this unbelievable failure! The project was supposed to generate $200 million in profits, not tens of millions in losses. Moreover, three formerly valuable pieces of commercial property are lost forever to greedy corporate villains who could care less about any form of social or civic responsibility.
The city should dissolve the urban renewal district in Juniper Ridge immediately, and limit the ultimate build-out to 50 acres, which will eliminate the need for hundreds of millions in wasted infrastructure. The last couple of buyers would be responsible for their own water & sewer, etc. And proceeds could be utilized to shut the project down and retire debt.
URBAN GROWTH BOUNDARY
We haven't heard much about the defunct / bloated UGB proposal which was denied by the state several years ago. How much more than the original $7 million has been wasted since 2009?
Bend should reduce the footprint to 4,500 acres maximum using primarily exception lands with no provision whatsoever for Juniper Ridge. Pipedream University at Juniper Ridge is done forever, and so is Juniper Ridge in general. It's far past time to bury that corpse.
Empower a citizen group to "fill in the blanks" so that city bureaucrats can escape the wrath of wealthy property owners who "muscled their way in" only to be disenfranchised and left out of the final UGB submittal. Sucks for them!
The city has "raged out of control" for many years. It's time for an overhaul at City Hall starting at the top with a primary objective of mitigating damage from these failed grandiose schemes.
So, what will really happen now that Citizen Groups like "Stop The Drain" are outraged and Landwatch has exposed the illegality and impracticability of SWIPE?
You can be certain that the city will find a way to avoid accountability at all costs, probably blaming opponents or the courts. Tens of millions will be further wasted on consultants and lawyers because bureaucrats and politicians "have no skin in the game.
To the extent possible, Bend will hide dirty laundry under a "veil of secrecy" as they always have.
Arrogance will rule in council chambers and the buffoons who created these disasters will run for higher office and lose, leaving the mess they created behind.