Now they're building a $100 million minifreeway through the center of Bend to ease the choking traffic that followed the skiers, golfers and other outdoor enthusiasts who came to town.

"This used to be a real neat little village, with a lot of ski bums and fly fishermen," said Tom Brasier, a retired California Highway Patrol officer turned commercial fly tier. "I've never seen a town grow this fast, ever. The Little League here went from nothing to not enough baseballs."Some decry the sprawling growth that is making their town look like a California suburb. But there is an interesting thing going on along the Deschutes River in the center of town at what was once Bend's biggest sawmill.

Developer Bill Smith is turning the industrial site covering about a third of the city limits into a neo-traditional village along the lines of Disney's new Celebration community in Orlando, Fla.

Known as the Old Mill District, it will mix housing ranging from apartments over storefronts to hillside mansions with light industry, office and retail space and artist studios. It also will have restaurants, an amphitheater and an ice rink.

The icon for the area will be the old three-stack brick power plant that powered the mill on wood waste.

"There is this powerful centrifugal force pushing development out to the fringes," Smith said of Bend. "This is a centripetal force that I hope will pull it into the center to make the core city strong. People can visit and shop and live and have offices and so forth."

It's a whole new direction for Bend.

Bend, population 32,000, is more than a ski resort. It is the retail, commercial, medical, industrial, educational and transportation hub of one of the fastest-growing regions of Oregon. It saw 48 percent growth from 1990 to 1997. At that rate, Bend's population is doubling in the time it takes a child to go from kindergarten to college.

World class skiing at Mount Bachelor, some 20 golf courses, and lots of mountain biking, backpacking and fly fishing have helped fuel a booming economy. Bend now boasts high-tech companies such as Tektronix, huge retail outlets such as Costco, and secondary wood products manufacturers such as Pozzi Window Co. that took the place of the old lumber mills.

Throw in lots of young retirees and Have Laptop, Will Travel consultants who can live anywhere and it is easy to see why they need the Bend Parkway to take the pressure off old U.S. Highway 97.

Bend is the biggest city in Oregon with no mass-transit system, making life even tougher for anyone who needs to get around.

Still, not everyone is complaining.

"We always wanted to live near a ski resort," said Tom Pickell, a manager for hire who spends his weeks on the road and his weekends at home in Bend. "When you come from someplace like San Francisco to Bend, there can be a lot of growth before you don't like it."

City Manager Larry Patterson expects growth to ease eventually, but he sees no immediate end to it.

"The growth we have seen, I think, has added to the community," Patterson said. "Some other things have added issues we have to deal with. But that is kind of the nature of the beast, I'm afraid."

Gated golf course developments like Broken Top are sprouting in the rolling hills of Bend's west side. The hills offer the best views of the snow-capped Cascade Range and the shortest drive to Mount Bachelor. The middle-income sprawl is spreading through the flatlands to the east, in what some people call the Costco District.

"It's definitely not the town I fell in love with," said Laurie Lillesve, the softgoods manager for Stone's Ski and Sports, who has lived in Bend off and on for 15 years. "The east side doesn't look like Bend at all. It looks like California."

Smith thinks growth does not have to look like California. Since moving to Bend in 1969, he has weathered two recessions, which by local rules makes him a native twice over. He was formerly planning director for the huge Brooks-Scanlon mill that at its peak employed 1,000 people turning huge ponderosa pine logs into lumber. The mill closed in 1994.

While rising housing prices are pushing people to commute to Bend from Redmond and La Pine, Smith sees a time when the Old Mill District will offer affordable housing within walking distance of work and play, whether for lawyers, software designers, waitresses or retail clerks.

"I think it's a good kind of development for the future," said Bart Queary, vice president for curriculum at Central Oregon Community College.

Not everyone is accepting the conventional Western wisdom that growth in general is not only inevitable, but good.

Andy Kerr, one of the winning generals in the battles over the northern spotted owl, is urging people to start thinking about stopping growth, not promoting it. A no-growth conference he organized in Portland last October had to turn away people after 600 registered.

"The argument is that as long as Oregon is a better place to live, people will leave Southern California and come here," Kerr said. "What that means is we will grow until the quality of our environment is degraded to the point that Southern Californians perceive it to be no benefit to move here. In other words, we have to become Southern California. Then it is a little late."