The art of figuring out what to do with Bend’s Mirror Pond requires answers to specific questions: What does the community want? What is the future of the dam?
The process Bend has used so far has discovered neither. It seemed determined to make a rendezvous with a destiny that didn’t include figuring out what the community should do.
The Bend City Council and the Bend Park & Recreation District Board have now formed a new committee.
Let’s try something different this time.
Let’s use the best methods to find out what the community wants.
Relying on online questionnaires may put a notch in somebody’s playbook of gathering community input. It doesn’t say much at all about what the community wants.
We know Bend’s leaders are acutely sensitive to having hefty community involvement, because it is important, and because of the questions the City Council took on its surface water project. It still needs to be a community process that will answer questions.
Do a scientific poll. Of course, polls have limitations. Short of a communitywide vote on every option, there is no better way.
But first, let’s find some answers about the dam and spell out for the public whatever is known about the ownership of the riverbottom.
Pacific Power can’t say how long it will keep the dam. Roger Raeburn, manager of dam safety at Pacific Power, doesn’t have a study that says the dam may last “x” more years.
That shouldn’t stop the new committee from getting answers on its own about what’s possible. For instance, does the city really have a chance to keep the dam if Pacific Power doesn’t want it?
No matter what is decided about Mirror Pond’s future, the leaders who make the decision are going to be beset with questions and complaints. That is part of leadership. Don’t set the new committee again on course to drift.