Editorial: Pick a future for Mirror Pond

Engineering built Mirror Pond. Not nature. And now, Bend is trying to decide the pond’s future.

Mirror Pond has been Bend’s centerpiece since 1910. It is the source of so many memories — floating Christmas parades gliding across the water with twinkling lights, furious clashes of plastic ducks, and river floaters clambering out to float down the Deschutes again. Mirror Pond is one of the images Bend projects to the world.

Get close, though, and Mirror Pond is becoming Mirror Mudflat. Silt is building up because the river dawdles before the dam near Newport Avenue.

The options for the pond’s future are acutely different. Some want the dam taken out and the river restored to a more natural state. Others want to do what’s necessary to keep the pond.

There are complications. Where will the money to pay for any option come from? Dredging would need to be done again and again. The dam is old and owned by Pacific Power. And those are not the end of the complications.

On Tuesday, the Mirror Pond Steering Committee hosted the second of two public hearings on the pond. A crowd of at least 30 made the case for taking out the dam. At the previous hearing, the sentiment tilted toward keeping the pond.

It’s dangerous to conclude much from these two early public hearings. And it won’t be much easier to conclude anything from the responses to the committee’s online questionnaire, either. It’s not a poll that attempts to be a statistical sampling of opinion. Don Horton, the executive director of the Bend Park & Recreation District, told us the purpose is to get as many people involved in the process as possible.

That’s admirable, of course, but the choice to use an online questionnaire rather than something more scientific will make it easier to criticize any decisions the committee makes.

After this phase of the questionnaire and public meetings, options will be developed with costs and funding. The strengths and weaknesses of each option will be presented. There will be more meetings. By June, the plan is to “create (a) preferred vision based on public response.”

The steering committee is the decision-making authority on this stage of the plan for the pond. If you have an opinion about the pond’s future, better let them know. Go to www.mirrorpondbend.com.