Several candidates for the Bend City Council talked about transportation issues and Mirror Pond dredging during a wide-ranging debate Tuesday at 10 Barrel Brewing’s east-side pub.
The candidates for position 5 are Andrew Davis, student life director at Central Oregon Community College; Gena Goodman-Campbell, public lands coordinator for the Oregon Natural Desert Association; and Victor Johnson, a musician. The position 6 candidates are Barb Campbell, a sitting city councilor and owner of the Wabi Sabi gift shop; Sarah McCormick, a stay-at-home mother; and Ron “Rondo” Boozell, a community activist.
Boozell missed the debate because he’s in jail through December for failing to pay child support. McCormick was absent because she was celebrating Canada’s Thanksgiving with her in-laws. But she recorded a video that aired at the start of the debate in which she said she was running because she was worried about her children’s safety downtown because of an “increasingly aggressive homeless population” and worried that Campbell was too concerned with national hot-button issues.
A private group that owns the land under Mirror Pond has spent more than a year seeking contributions from the city, the Bend Park & Recreation District, Pacific Power and private donors in order to pay the $6.7 million cost of dredging decades’ worth of accumulated silt from the pond.
A few city councilors and park board members plan to meet later this fall to discuss ways the two governments could contribute.
Johnson said everyone should split the cost. Davis agreed, saying the city, park district and homeowners along that section of river have an obligation to pay because Mirror Pond is an important part of the city.
“Growing up in Bend, you couldn’t not know Mirror Pond,” Davis said.
The city needs to remember that private owners own the land under Mirror Pond, and should figure out how to pay for dredging, Goodman-Campbell said. Old Mill District developer Bill Smith and Taylor Northwest Construction company owner Todd Taylor received the land several years ago.
“I’ve been a little bit frustrated watching the city take up time and resources and staff discussing how the city should contribute when I don’t even know that the city should,” Goodman-Campbell said.
Pacific Power’s dam, which created the pond, also created the problem of accumulated silt, Campbell said. She compared Pacific Power to a local wood chips company that the city cited when it let wood chips pile up, and said other businesses pay to clean up messes when they make them.
Instead of cleaning up its own mess, Pacific Power is trying to get tax money to pay for it, Campbell said. She said she won’t support any city funding for the silt removal.
Candidates were asked how they’d reconcile transportation for people who want to bike and people who want to drive.
Campbell said she was excited about neighborhood greenways, which the city is now trying on NE Sixth Street and NW 15th Street. Greenways mean bicyclists can spend less time using bike lanes on busy streets, she said.
“You take the thoroughfare and you go a block away, onto the residential street where traffic is already slower,” she said.
Campbell and Goodman-Campbell said they’re both excited about partnering with the park district on ways to provide better-connected paths for bikers and pedestrians, especially on new, undeveloped land that Bend will plan and annex during the next several years.
Johnson said he’d want to see more connected bike paths that will make it possible for people to safely bike from one side of town to the other.
“We could structure downtown to be more bike friendly and pedestrian friendly,” he said.
More than 80 percent of commuters drive with one or two occupants in their cars, Davis said. He said the city should keep high rates of driving in mind while planning, but also make sure new roads are wide enough and have adequate bike lanes.
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