Supporters welcome OSU-Cascades as future neighbor

Students, residents say Westside location best fit

A welcoming site

It's a welcoming sight for some -- 10 acres nestled in Bend's busy west side : the future home of OSU-Cascades.

"I was extremely excited about it," OSU-Cascades student Whitney Cox said Friday.

But with the excitement comes staunch critics.

"I did not expect as much opposition as we saw," said OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson.

Since the university announced the proposed location several months ago, the opposition has been growing. Many of the disgruntled residents live right near the site, and some are threatening legal action to block the development.

Still, there's plenty of residents nearby welcoming the campus right into their backyard.

Westside resident Bruce Cummings said the opposition's claims of reduced property values, increased traffic and wild college kids don't scare him. 

It's all plus to me," he said. "Students are going to spend money. Old folks like me are going to get a chance to audit courses."

Jeff Monson lives less than a mile from the future campus; he's also the executive director of Commute Options, a nonprofit devoted to reducing traffic and encouraging greener modes of transportation.

"There's just a vibrancy of college students -- I think it will be exciting," Monson said.

He also admits there will be bumps and hiccups along the way. One of the biggest concerns is student traffic clogging up the roadways.

"The campus coming in can make this a game-changer for transit in Central Oregon," Monson said. "Multiple different committees are all looking at transportation options, and are looking at offering a wide range of options, like free bus passes and enhanced transit, and carpool parking spaces, Zipcars (car-sharing) and better pedestrian and bike amenities."

And that's what many future students say they want.

"When you're in the middle of town, you're more accessible for bike travel, or commuting, as opposed to being tucked away on your own private campus," said future student Brock Davis.

Like it or not, OSU-Cascades is coming, and supporters say dealing with the challenges will be the best way to find solutions.

To hear from people opposed to the campus location, don't miss NewsChannel 21's next installment of this special series, coming up next Monday at 6 p.m.

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