A packed room greeted Bend city councilors, planning commissioners and officials from OSU-Cascades Friday as they discussed the new university rocking the city.
"We need to look at those issues that will impact our community both positively and negatively," Bend Planning Commission member Laura Fritz said at the special joint meeting with city councilors.
Most of the discussion focused on the challenges that lie ahead
"How many students are going to be in cars, is that going to impact Century Drive?" asked Assistant City Manager Jon Skidmore, acknowledging the main concerns of community members. "And the compatibility with 5,000 students -- where are they going to live? Are they going to live next store to me?"
It's the million-dollar question many are stuck on.
"I have lived in a college town -- I know exactly what it's like," said Bend resident Marie Matthews, who lives near the future Westside site of the university. "I loved the students. I didn't like the mess and the unsightliness."
Matthews said she's worried the city is in over its head.
"There's no reason to rush through a process that is so impactful, that has such a long-term meaning for our whole city," Matthews said. "And I stress the need for us to be a town with a college, not a college town."
Those were similar to the feelings city Councilor Mark Capell stressed to city planners.
"Off-campus, what do we have to do so that we still love being here?" Capell asked the group.
City officials said they don't have all the answers yet, but they're gearing up.
"We are trying to staff up strategically to handle it, and hire some more front-line staff to free up our senior staff," Skidmore said.
Skidmore said he's not sure where the additional staff will fit into the budget. He said hiring more people could mean asking city councilors for additional funding.
In the meantime, officials from each organization agreed that getting the public more involved in the planning process is key.
Skidmore also presented a timeline of four projects the city will be involved in during the process of the university's expansion:
Project 1 includes OSU-Cascades' site plan application and the development of 10 acres and construction to get the university started.
Project 2 is the development of OSU-Cascade's master plan, including development of the entire 46 acres. Planning starts in the spring of 2015, and the city will be involved in public hearings and broader polices guiding the site development.
Project 3 is the "Westside Land Use and Transportation Plan." Planning starts this summer and the city that will lead a study and plan of long-term land use and transportation scenarios.
Project 4 -- implementation and refinement. That project will address planning for transition areas and assuring that issues are addressed long-term.
OSU-Cascades is expected to submit its site application to the city this spring for its first phase of expansion.
The university expects to open its doors as a four-year university in the fall of 2015.