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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: If opponents don’t agree with putting Central Oregon’s first university, with plans to enroll at least 5,000 students on the west side of Bend, then where is the best possible location for the new OSU-Cascades Campus?
A: There are safer and more economically viable sites that would better serve the higher education needs of all Central Oregonians, not just those living in Bend. Offering educational opportunities to a broader base of students, and beyond the west side of Bend, is the long-term goal. The $30,000 per month OSU is spending to maintain the option to purchase the adjacent pumice mine could go a long way toward proper and unbiased due diligence of all potential sites.
Q: Are OSU administrators correct in assuming that the west side “urban integrated campus” is the only model that will guarantee a successful university?
A: Make no mistake. This is not an urban integrated college campus. Bend is not Portland. OSU is proposing a residential college campus immediately adjacent to neighborhoods. According to survey highlights published by Now For Bend, “Where the new campus will be located in the city,” ranked 23.7% important as compared to the 69.3% who ranked education programs as most important. This supports goals of higher education, and the message is clear: Provide robust academic programs and on-campus facilities, and students will come no matter the location.
Q: By insisting upon a west-side location, is OSU inferring that those who live somewhere other than the west side of Bend don’t enjoy the employment and recreational opportunities that are offered near downtown Bend?
A: Whether the university is east, west, north, or south of Downtown Bend, every student will have equal access to the same recreational, entertainment and employment opportunities that we all currently enjoy. Are we really supposed to believe students won’t be driving cars?
Q: All agree, meeting the educational needs of Central Oregon’s children is front and center. But how do we meet a diverse set of needs and goals? The region’s innovative businesses desire a locally trained workforce. Economic innovation continues to thrive in Bend, Redmond, and other cities in Central Oregon. But how do we meet the needs of students from outlying areas beyond Bend at the currently proposed campus location?
A: First and foremost, Central Oregon is long overdue for a four-year university. Meeting these multiple objectives will require more thoughtful planning and the ability to think beyond enrollment numbers for fall of 2016—We have yet to see strong leadership that can accompish this without trampling on the livability of residents already here.
The argument to present the Oregon taxpayers, legislators, and Bend residents with an open and third-party evaluation of all potential sites is totally justified when one understands that the 10-acre site is adjacent to land rife with technical, geological, environmental, and engineering hurdles that promise to be costly for taxpayers and voters, and not without risks. Costs that could go beyond dollars and cents.
Who is addressing the concerns about students being in proximity to a smoldering landfill with sinkholes and a deep, pumice mine with unstable walls?
Where will the University expand if it cannot develop on the adjacent land?
Summary of site-specific concerns:
THE LACK OF A MASTER PLAN: The fact that OSU-C is not required 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 a “loop hole” in the 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.
*Image Source: Bend Bulletin on April 18th, 2015