By Taylor W. Anderson

The Bulletin

House Bill 3283 — Would direct the state to sell $5 million in lottery bonds that would be given to the Bend Park & Recreation District for the proposed Mirror Pond project.

Sponsors: Reps. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, and Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver; Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend

History: In 2013, dam owner PacifiCorp announced its intention to rid itself of ownership of the aged dam. The city has since decided it would like to keep the dam in place while developing part of the area near Mirror Pond.

What’s next: Bill passed Tuesday out of committee to the budget-writing committee. No action is scheduled.

Online: Read the bill at https://olis.leg.state.or.us

SALEM — A proposal for the state to partly fund the Mirror Pond Dam removal project in Bend passed a hurdle Tuesday toward potential passage before the Legislature adjourns this summer.

Passed unanimously by a committee, the bill would allow the state to raise $5 million through lottery bonds for a project that would replace the aging Mirror Pond Dam with a structure that would preserve the pond, improve fish passage and allow the city to develop part of the waterfront.

House Bill 3283, sponsored by Reps. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver, and Sen. Tim Knopp of Bend, also a Republican, was sent to the state’s budget-writing committee hours before a deadline could have imperiled the measure this session.

“This is really an opportunity, I think, that we have to bring in this private-public partnership and help us solve a communitywide issue,” said Don Horton, executive director of the Bend Park & Recreation District.

In late 2013, Mirror Pond Dam owner PacifiCorp announced it was no longer interested in using the dam to generate electricity and would look to rid itself of the dam.

Over the last year, an ad hoc group of Bend residents, the Bend Park & Recreation District and city councilors have developed a proposal to replace the dam and dredge the pond to deter future silt accumulation.

The cost of the proposal hasn’t been determined, but the committee recommends selling or leasing properties now owned by the city, the park district and PacifiCorp to private developers to generate money for the project.

“The project also allows for more efficient use of land than what we have today,” said Bend resident Ned Dempsey, a civil engineer and member of the ad hoc committee.

“Keep in mind Bend and the river are Oregon’s asset; it’s not just Bend’s.”

Bill McCormick, owner of The Pine Tavern, told the committee hearing the bill that the proposed project is a way for the city to embrace the river for economic development, as is done in major U.S. cities such as San Antonio.

“The opportunities for a community to take advantage of its river and draw people and draw business and build excitement and synergy for the community is huge,” McCormick told the committee.

The $5 million still needs to be approved by the state’s budget-writing committee, which probably won’t happen until lawmakers consider a rush of proposals for state bonding. The city is also still studying the feasibility of the dam removal project to understand how the land would be developed, City Manager Eric King said.

— Reporter: 406-589-4347,

tanderson@bendbulletin.com

Scott Hammers contributed to this report from Bend.

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