New Bend, Oregon, campus draws new opposition group

BEND, Ore. — A new group is organizing opposition to locating a new campus for the Oregon State University-Cascades on Bend’s west side.

Truth In Site, formally organized a few weeks ago, has raised concerns about traffic, parking and the availability of affordable student housing at the site chosen for the new campus.

The Bend Bulletin reported that the group’s meeting this week attracted around 200 attendees.

The branch school has grown rapidly and has approval to become a four-year school by 2015. It plans to locate the new campus on 56 acres on Bend’s west side.

The university envisions three buildings open by fall 2015 containing student residences, classrooms, plus office and retail space.

The opposition group’s spokesman, Scott Morgan, said the group supports bringing a four-year OSU-Cascades campus to Bend, but it believes the process of selecting a site was rushed by the university.

“Your grandkids are going to be living with this decision. It’s not just something you decide on a whim,” said Morgan, a retired CEO from the health-care industry who lives on Bend’s west side with his family.

Morgan said the goal of his group is to raise enough money to hire a land-use attorney to oppose the location of the campus and to study the traffic and environmental effects of a campus at the location.

At the meeting, members of the group also raised questions about why another site — a city-owned, mostly undeveloped 1,500-acre mixed-use project on the north end of the city called Juniper Ridge — was not selected.

The university has argued developing the Juniper Ridge site was too costly.

The group’s members were also concerned the 56-acre location on Bend’s side would limit the future growth of the new campus.

But university officials at the meeting said the site was just the right size for the new campus and the number of projected students.

Becky Johnson, an OSU vice president and the highest-ranking administrator in Bend, said the new university campus plans to cap its size after starting with 1,900 in the fall of 2015 and would not rise above 5,000 students.

Johnson also said the time frame imposed on the university was workable and that more time would not have led to a different site selection.

“Absolutely no time element rushed us to that site, and we looked everywhere,” she said.

University officials also told the opposition group that they had invited feedback at quarterly meetings, public-input meetings and through a campus committee.

The university expects $24 million in bond proceeds and donations to pay for the new campus.

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