SW Bend neighborhood groups unite to try to ‘save Deschutes South Canyon’ as a park – not housing

(Update: Added video and comments from Rep and Bend Park and Rec)

‘Save Bend Green Space’ launches investigation to try to save popular recreation area

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Southern Bend residents represented by several neighborhood associations say they fear losing the land use they enjoy – the Deschutes South Canyon – to another subdivision, and hope that it could become a park instead, through public funding or donations.

It is Bend’s largest remaining green space by the river. People use the area for recreation – walking, biking, and running, among other outdoor activities.

The group started a Save Bend Green Space group and website, saying the land is very popular for recreational uses and many people in the community want to keep it. The community hopes it can be turned into a new park, similar to Shevlin Park.

The Central Oregon Irrigation District has for some years planned to sell about 80 acres of its property south of the Old Mill District to Pahlisch Homes of Bend for $10 million, although some final stages of land use is required.

It is part of COID’s approximately 140-acre property, bounded by the river and Brookswood Boulevard. They would keep the rest of the land, which includes a canal canal and a power plant

Several neighborhood associations, including Southwest Bend, Southern Crossing and Century West, are coming together in hopes of preserving undeveloped land and have also launched an online survey that will end May 31.

The survey asks people how they use the land and how often. He also asks if respondents would support a bond measure or be willing to donate to save the 80 acres from the development.

I spoke with Bend Park and board member Ariel Mendez to find out if the effort could work.

“I really welcome the feedback from residents and the effort to try to organize people, to try to understand how people are using this open space,” Mendez said Thursday.

“I think that’s all really useful information,” he said, but “it doesn’t necessarily change the fundamental opportunity of having a role to play in terms of acquiring property or playing a formal role in that sense. So in that sense, we have to wait and see what the outcome of this private real estate transaction is.”

He said all official trails that exist along the river, along the canal pipeline and access roads to the property will be preserved, regardless of what happens to the rest of the property.

Southwest Bend Ward Land Use Chair Judy Clinton said she wants it to become a “green lung” for Bend, rather than more development for more housing.

“More housing is happening all over Bend,” Clinton said. “Can’t we save a place that’s just amazing, accessible to everyone? That’s what we’re trying to do – we’re trying to raise money and be able to buy that.”

Once the survey is complete, the group will compile the results and present them to Bend City Council and the Bend Park and Recreation Board.

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