Monday, September 23, 2013

OSU Pumice Pit moving downward

Pumice, like Swiss cheese, is full of holes
Well, the state gave its approval Friday for the Oregon State University branch campus in Bend to build its new campus on a pumice pit.

For roughly $13 million, taxpayers get a huge hole in the ground on Bend's west side that they have to spend another $8 million to fill with dirt, plus cleanup, to make it even buildable.

Again, only a fool, or a government entity, would ever buy such land.

Oh, as the daily newspaper duly noted, the state education panel that approved the purchase is chaired by a man with a 50 percent stake in one of the property companies involved in the sale.

To keep it all above board, Kirk Schueler recused himself from the vote, but amazingly, the rest of the board members voted unanimously to line the pockets of their chairman with taxpayer dollars.

It's obvious that the fix was in to build OSU Pumice Pit on Bend's west side because those who gave about $2 million in private fund-raising for the effort likely stipulated that the campus had to be on Bend's west side, even though there is more than enough near-free land set aside on Bend's north side at Juniper Ridge for just such a campus.

But, OSU Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson said that it was important for students to get the real feel of Bend by being so close to downtown Bend.

What she's really saying is that those in Bend who do not live on the west side, don't fully experience the real Bend.

Now, Johnson may be real smart, but she does know how to insult friends and alienate others.

Of course, there are a number of brewpubs near the future OSU Pumice Pit and since college students, especially under-drinking age college teens, love to drink beer, it's essential they have access to some mighty fine brews. Just wait until marijuana is legalized.

But, future OSU Pumice Pit students will get to experience almost all of Bend since there are no apartments or any affordable housing on Bend's west side where students could live. And, the 56-acre site is too small to include much student housing.

This means students will have to live on the east side of Bend, where there are numerous apartment complexes and other affordable housing, and commute across town to OSU Pumice Pit.

This is just fine for the westsiders, because they don't really want drunken students and their loud parties on their side of town.

When Central Oregon Community College, also on Bend's west side, decided to build some housing for students, there was an uproar from the neighbors.

In this sense, west-side Bendites represent the Oregon ethos: You can commute all you want, just don't move to the west side of town.

Of course, the city, which had wanted to attract a "world-class research university" to Juniper Ridge, may get its say on the proposed OSU Pumice Pit.

What mitigation will be demanded of OSU Pumice Pit for its impact on roads, which are already overcrowded in the area, or on the sewer system, which is already failing? Or on water? Or on storm drains?

Will the city adopt a public facility strategy for the first time ever?

Let's hope the city can school the collegians about land use.

But, considering how westsiders have won so far, it's apparent that city planners will gladly Bend over and grab their ankles.

1 comment:

  1. I still don't see the issue. State taxpayers pay if they choose the westside and Bend taxpayers pay if they choose JR. Based on the cost of getting the ground shovel ready for LS and Suterra, the cost of the gravel pit is about the same. I get the west side thing. If you're trying to lure students, what's an easier sell, the village with pine tree or the dry juniper desert? I've split my 20 years here east and west. It's a much easier sell to potential students and their parents. Education is a business, the decision is obvious. My own selfishness say good...don't crowd the east side. It's nice and quiet, no congestion, I like my .5 acre lot lit up only by starlight. I was over the west side after 10 years over there, glad we moved. Nobody in their right mind is going to build a university half way to pronghorn when they've got a little space on the west side. I hear your points but if it was your job to ensure the success of the new Bend campus of OSU, you'd pick the gravel pit too. Caring for the concerns of the taxpayers is not how this works. The US has over $200 Trillion in debt obligations and the main ideas behind dealing with that debt are borrowing more while we cut away those liabilities that benefit the taxpayer. Keep an eye on Detroit. Whatever happens there will become a template for the rest of the bankrupt municipalities in this country. PERS, CALPERS, SS reform is code for "we're not going to live up to our promises". Both sides of the isle have been very vocal about the need for retirement account reform. My point being, taxpayers are cattle. If you spent too much on your new truck, the cattle can eat a little less from now on. We know the bulk of the cattle never complain anyway...