Editorial: Park bond value goes beyond Bend

Bend has long recognized the value of Mt. Bachelor to the local community. People come here to ski or snowboard in the wintertime, and some of them fall in love with the place and decide to come back, permanently. As summer recreation opportunities expand, so do our chances of luring new businesses to the area.

It’s happened in the past. PCC Schlosser, owned by Precision Castparts Corp., first came to Redmond for just that reason. The Redmond plant employs more than 100 people and manufactures titanium alloy airplane and missile components, among other things. It’s easy to find at least a dozen more examples, including Bend Research.

Voters here upped the chances for repeats of similar stories last week when they agreed to finance a variety of improvements sought by the Bend Park & Recreation District. Three things, in particular, promise to be the sorts of draws to the region that could pay off down the road.

It was clear well before the election that the prospect of expanding the Deschutes River Trail system was of interest beyond the confines of the district. National conservation groups contributed to the effort to get the bond approved, as far as we know a first in these parts.

The Trust for Public Land, which was active in the drive to acquire the Miller’s Landing park property, put up almost half the money raised by a pro-bond measure political action committee, while League of Conservation Voters volunteers took part in the door-to-door campaign by that PAC.

It’s hard to believe either would have been involved had their leadership not believed interest in the district’s plans extended beyond the boundaries of the city of Bend.

Then there are the improvements planned at the Colorado Avenue bridge on the Deschutes. The river passageway there now can literally be a death trap. Improvements will change that, even as they offer the possibility of whitewater competitions in the middle of the city.

Finally, the district has committed to working with the Oregon State University-Cascades Campus on developing the Simpson Avenue property. As the school grows to become a full university, it will draw people to the area who might never have heard of it otherwise.

In the end, all that is good not only for Bend, but for all Central Oregon, because it will help strengthen the economy.