BPRD shares update on river project concept designs

September 11, 2023

The Bend Park and Recreation District (BPRD) has moved a step forward with its design concepts to improve access at three of its riverfront parks: McKay, Miller’s Landing and Columbia parks. At the Sept. 5 public meeting, the BPRD board of directors approved the conceptual design concepts for four access points following individual votes for each park and access point.

To better manage increased recreational river use, improve the experience for all users, and to better facilitate sustainable use of our river resource, BPRD developed the 2021 Deschutes River Access & Habitat Restoration Plan. Three individual projects from the River Plan, which encompass four river access points, have been combined into this single, larger project: the  McKay, Miller’s Landing, and Columbia Park’s River Access Project .

Based on the board’s guidance in spring 2023, extensive community and stakeholder feedback, and the opportunities and constraints of each location, preferred conceptual designs were developed for each of the four river access locations. These preferred conceptual designs, along with a description of existing conditions at each location, can be viewed here.  For all previous project information, please visit the project website.

The board of directors’ votes included:

  • McKay Park: 5 yes
  • Miller’s Landing #1: 5 yes
  • Miller’s Landing #2: 4-1 (Director Barram opposed)
  • Columbia Park: 3-2 (Director Owens and Director Borja opposed)

Community input about these initial design concepts was collected via an online story map, feedback to the project manager and/or at multiple in-person outreach events and on the project webpage in early winter 2023. The input was shared with BPRD’s board of directors who directed the latest design work to help determine priorities and timelines.

“Improved access at these three parks for a site-specific combination of watercraft launching, wading, swimming, and hanging out by the river, would go a long way in addressing access to the river, which was identified as a high community need by the 2018 Comprehensive Plan,” said Ian Isaacson, BPRD project manager and landscape architect.

BPRD completed the initial phase of work, which included site surveys, data collection and development of initial concept drawings. The initial concepts were developed based on data collected at each location, the opportunities and constraints of each site, BPRD planning documents, and from recommendations by the team of external consultants.

Partial funding for phase one of the project was provided by the Oregon State Marine Board Waterway Access Grant Program, investing 10-foot and longer nonmotorized boat permit fees paid by nonmotorized boaters for boating facility improvements.

The next phase of the project will be to finalize the designs for Miller’s Landing and Columbia parks, while the design for McKay Park will be combined into the district’s Whitewater Park Maintenance Project, which is estimated to begin in 2024.

To learn more about the project, visit https://www.bendparksandrec.org/project/mmc/.