Attorneys for the city of Bend and a Central Oregon conservation group are scheduled to meet in a mediation session in a Eugene courtroom Monday.
The meeting comes less than a week after a federal judge ordered the city to halt construction on a planned $70 million overhaul of its surface water system .
The city had been planning on breaking ground on the project as early as last week. But the court injunction means Bend will have to now wait for U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken’s ruling. Meanwhile, the injunction is already affecting the project’s time table.
City Manager Eric King says part of what was scheduled for this week was the completion of some in-stream work.
Now is the time when stream flows are at their lowest. But King says the city’s permit will likely expire before the case gets resolved.
King explained, “We’ve essentially missed that window to do that in-water work.”
Judge Aiken will decide whether city planners properly assessed the project’s environmental impacts before seeking permits from the U.S. Forest Service. Moey Newbold believes they did not. She’s a spokeswoman for Central Oregon Land Watch, the group that brought the case.
She said, “They were sloppy in their environmental analysis. We actually think they should have done an environmental impact statement.”
City officials are still hoping to replace some aging pipes at the same time Deschutes County re-paves the road on top it. But those plans, like everything else are now on hold.