OPB’s Think Out Loud Visits Bend to Debate the OSU-Cascades Proposed Site.

The OPB Think Out Loud Team drove all the way from Portland to Bend to offer those who oppose this site location a place at the OSU table(s). It took courage to stand up to the billion-dollar industry that is OSU – but we did it!  And, we’ll happily do it again—for you. For ALL Central Oregonians and higher-ed advocates throughout the state.

OSU and their site-specific supporters got the lion’s share of mic time. However, for the first time, two Truth in Site supporters were given the opportunity to speak on this hotly debated topic. You can hear a handful of concerns and objections to this proposed site during the second half-hour. (Yes, OSU got the entire first half hour!) And yes, there is so much more to talk about.

Now that the OPB team has a deeper understanding of the myriad of complex issues surrounding this proposed 10-acre site, we would love to see them back to Bend for another and more transparent debate. Let’s talk about the pros and cons of staking a claim to build a state university on a 10-acre parcel of land on a site that is adjacent to:

  • Smoldering landfill
  • An open deep pumice mine (also used as a landfill) that OSU may, or may not develop
  • Tumalo fault line

What other high-occupancy facilities are developed on such hazards?

Is there a site in a part of town that is more economically viable to develop? A site that is easily accessible for ALL Central Oregonians, and better suited to meet the unique needs of college students? Weigh in at our survey at the top of the page.

Summary of site-specific concerns:


THE LACK OF A MASTER PLAN: The fact that OSU-C is not required (per City Code) to provide a master plan for a project of this magnitude – a project that has the power to completely change Bend and/or Central Oregon is unacceptable and irresponsible. OSU-C should not be allowed to use this “loop hole” in development code to bypass the importance of sound planning simply by purchasing a small property to get the project started, only to incorporate surrounding land and/or nearby commercial properties down the road. The citizens of Bend deserve to know the true impact a university will have on the surrounding areas regardless of where the university is eventually built, be it on the westside of Bend (as currently proposed) or the north, east, or south side. OSU has made it clear that the university plans to expand beyond the initial 10 acres. Because of that fact alone, OSU should be required to provide a master plan showing the true impacts on the surrounding area that the university will have at what OSU says will be the full build out (5,000+ students – although OSU President, Ed Ray has mentioned higher numbers) not just the impacts the 10 acre university (1,800 students) will have. The various impacts a university has on a town/city are like no other business.


INADEQUATE LAND:  The initial proposed location is only 10.44-acres to serve 1,890 students plus faculty and staff, making it one of the smallest per acre per student ratios in the country. For a comparison, Reed College in Portland utilizes 116-acres for 1400 students. Current concepts for both parcels show OSU-C is utilizing only about 29- acres of the 56 gross acres.


 PUMICE MINE: The 46-acre expansion site is the pumice mine owned by 4R Equipment (Jack Robinson and Sons) that OSU has been paying $30,000 a month to for over 20 months as of July 2015. Most recently, there were massive quantities of demolition waste dumped into this 60+ foot depth funnel-shaped pumice mine. It begs the question, is this the most suitable location to place an undergraduate university?


TOXIC LAND:  OSU-Cascades campus site is situated immediately adjacent to toxic landfills. The landfill containing 50,000 thousand tire carcasses has a highly unstable surface that is dangerous to walk upon. This landfill shares a border with the OSU site. There are questions and concerns surrounding public health and safety as well as environmental concerns associated with landfill gases (methane emissions) from these landfills and placing students in close proximity. 


EARTHQUAKE FAULT:   The Tumalo earthquake fault runs through both the pumice pit as well as the county landfill furthering the serious issues with these parcels. 


NO EXPANSION SPACE:  The 56-acre site plus the county landfill do not offer any further growth opportunities UNLESS they start buying up land and buildings in close proximity. OSU-C’s statement about this being a “small urban campus” is false when you start moving outside of the land proposed. Why not locate in an area with ample land for expansion?


PARKING:  The 319 proposed onsite parking spaces for the 2,000 students, faculty and staff is grossly under capacity. If you look at standards for  parking ratios from reputable sources such as the International Building Code, The Universal Building Code or the figures gathered by the Livability Task Force working on behalf of OCU-C, you will see that the parking proposed is one-third to one-half of what a well thought out plan would include. Why did they propose so little parking? Because they don’t have anywhere near enough land to provide the right amount. If you study the conflict that goes on in Corvallis over parking, you will understand what we fill face if we allow this to happen. As an example…Summit High School (just up the road from the proposed campus site) has 460+ parking spaces for a student population of under 1,200 students…nearly half of whom aren’t even old enough to drive, yet the parking lot at Summit is always full.


TRAFFIC:  If you live or travel in the established neighborhood districts that make up the westside of Bend, then you know these roads are already congested and some roundabouts are already failing. As a group, we can’t understand how a traffic study could say adding 2,000 students, facility and staff to this location will have “no impact on traffic and no mitigation is necessary.” We don’t buy the argument that OSU-C can “socially engineer” its students and facility to leave their cars at home. What about those driving from Redmond, Madras, La Pine, Prineville, and other cities?  


STUDENT HOUSING:  Since they have such little space, OSU-C will force a huge majority of students to live off campus. If you have been following the challenges that student housing creates at VIRTUALLY every other university in the country, we should be concerned about the impact to the adjoining neighborhoods. The fact is this: there is NO student housing available on the westside. Where are these students going to live? They will have to live on the north or east side of town where there are more apartments and affordable student housing. If they are living on the north or east side of town, they will be creating added traffic burdens on ALL OVER TOWN, not just the westside.


WHAT IS THE REAL PLAN?:  OSU’s long term student population goals are well above 5,000 students. President Ed Ray is quoted as saying he hopes campus enrollment reaches closer to 8,000-10,000 students. (See article in “Articles” titled “Ed Ray – State of the university.”

More detailed research and information can be found on our Information Page.

 Check back frequently for updates!

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