Central Oregon

Critics fear negative impacts of Westside campus

Many feel OSU-Cascades would fare better elsewhere

OSU-Cascades plans have critics

BEND, Ore. - "I think a university campus is a golden opportunity," said Andy West, an architectural designer. "I think it's the opportunity of a lifetime. It would change the face of this town forever, for the better."

In this case however, there is a but -- plenty of buts, voiced by critics of OSU-Cascades' planned campus location on Bend's Westside. 

For now, the plan is for OSU-Cascades to build its new four-year campus off of Century Drive.

The site location is one major concern for many. People who oppose the location say there are hidden costs in the adjacent pumice mine and a possible expansion onto a former construction (demolition) debris landfill. 

"We have no idea what it's going to cost to build on a pumice pit," West said.

Rental availability in Bend is less than 1 percent. An influx of 5,000 students who need a roof over their heads could jack up prices, critics say. 

Some fear the fate of the Westside traffic-wise, with so many students commuting to class and so few parking spots (roughly 300) once they get there.

Some say limiting student access to cars is unrealistic, no matter what transit improvements are made. They think students will want cars to get to the mountain or various trailheads with in driving distance. 
Cost, housing, traffic and a growing concern that Bend is missing out on a huge opportunity -- many pointing north, to the city's mostly empty Juniper Ridge development, as a better choice

Many of the critics say larger universities bring more opportunities -- they just believe the school has made a bad choice in where to place their new campus.

Next week, in the concluding part of our four-part special report, Renee Nelson looks at the questions raised about the infrastructure for the planned Westside campus.

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