After months of planning and searching across Bend, on Feb. 13 Oregon State University-Cascades paid $5 million and signed the papers for their 10-acre land purchase.
The chosen property, located off of Southwest Century Drive and Chandler Avenue, has already been considered as a final option for the last few months. The land purchase finalization is another facet to the continuing process, according to Kelly Sparks, OSU-Cascades project manager.
“This is something that we’ve been expecting for a while,” Sparks said. “It’s basically the formal process for something in the works for some time.”
While the land purchase may have been anticipated, it is still eliciting community response. Bend city councilor Mark Capell hailed the land purchase as a step in the right direction.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity, not only for OSU-Cascades, but also for the community,” Capell said.
Now that OSU-Cascades has signed off on the deeds, the campus has the opportunity to start work with the City of Bend and the community. Christine Coffin, director of communications for OSU-Cascades, gave a project update to the Bend City Council at its meeting on Feb. 19, where she said that OSU-Cascades is now working on gathering public feedback and putting together site plans for the city. Being able to purchase the chosen land had a large part in that, according to Sparks.
“It’s allowing us to make the next steps with land development,” Sparks said. “Really, we’re on track. This was an important milestone for OSU-Cascades.”
As OSU-Cascades gets ready to design the buildings and address the impact of the campus on the community, now the campus is focusing on Central Oregon input. In April 2013, the campus formed the Campus Expansion Advisory Committee to look at transportation, neighborhood livability and sustainability. Already, that committee has been holding numerous public forums in Central Oregon to smoothly transition to the next step: building a campus while keeping the community’s interests in mind.
This new step in the expansion is important, according to Capell.
“One of the important things we need to be aware of — of course we need to work with the university — but we need to be careful about the infrastructure’s impact,” Capell said. “I’m excited that OSU-Cascades is having a lot of public forums and task forces.”
After gathering community feedback, OSU-Cascades will be looking at future work with the City of Bend to approve construction for the summer. OSU-Cascades will be looking at several steps in the next few months, including finalizing plans for new buildings with student and faculty input and preparing for both a smooth acceptance process with the city and leveraged support from the community. Added to that, OSU-Cascades is looking at signing off on a nearby land parcel, a 46-acre lot, in the spring of 2014.
But despite the fact that OSU-Cascades still has many more steps to go, Capell believes the recent progress is satisfactory.
“It’s a great opportunity, both for the campus and the community,” Capell said. “This is really encouraging to see.”