|Rendering for Juniper Ridge where OSU-Cascades should go|
Close to 300 citizens showed up tonight at the Armory on Bend's west side to mostly voice opposition to Oregon State University's proposed campus on a pumice pit.
The gathering was coordinated by a new group called "Truth in Site Coalition," which pointed out a number of times throughout the evening that it enthusiastically supports a four-year university in Bend, just not at the proposed site.
It's a group apparently comprised of retired professionals in a variety of fields who would be great assets for OSU, but the college obviously has no use for such talent.
Otherwise, the OSU-Pumice Pit brain trust would realize that 56 acres of land, that is mostly unsuitable for any building and surrounded by single family housing, is an inadequate and inappropriate location for a four-year university.
There were a few people at the meeting who urged everyone "to work with the university and not against the university."
Hello. It is the university that is working against the people of Bend and has no interest in the concerns of the majority living in this town who believe the pumice pit is a horrible location.
The school wants to rush through the acquisition and land-use process so that it can open its doors in the fall of 2015.
That timetable is ridiculous. As the emcee of the event tonight said, "that timetable is fine for a house, but not for a new four-year university."
The Truth in Site Coalition has raised $10,000 and is hoping to raise at least $50,000 in order to hire a land-use lawyer to fight the location of the westside campus.
I hope they succeed, but it's going to be extremely tough.
The group lists six areas of concern. They include:
1) Increased traffic in already congested area.
2) Inadequate campus parking that will spill over into surrounding neighborhoods.
3) Limited affordable housing for students.
4) Single family housing being converted to student housing.
5) The pumice pit is unsafe and unhealthy.
6) Expansion to the north on the adjacent land that what once a demolition landfill will be too costly to ever develop.
Of course, the last two issues are the most critical, but the others are vitally important as well.
The main argument that proponents make about the westside location near the center of town is: what student would ever want to go to a school way out there in Juniper Ridge.
Yes, Juniper Ridge, the huge parcel on Bend's north end that was designed to accommodate a four-year university.
First off, Juniper Ridge is across the highway from Bend's largest shopping and dining area.
Secondly, OSU will have no trouble attracting students to Bend, provided the school is decent enough, because the city itself has had little trouble attracting people to move here from all over the country.
There has never been a shred of evidence presented to show that few students would go to a college at Juniper Ridge. It's a completely bogus argument.
And, as someone noted tonight, more than a century ago a school opened about 45 miles south of San Francisco that was so remote it was called "The Farm." Today, that school is Stanford.
Now, OSU-Pumice Pit will never, ever be a Stanford, but it could be an adequate four-year school at Juniper Ridge.
The biggest impediment to siting OSU at Juniper Ridge is that ODOT now says a $20 million to $30 million highway interchange is needed to offset the impact of the development.
Fair enough, but it'll cost that much or more just to prep the pumice pit.
Certainly, paying to improve a major highway to benefit far more people, is a better use of taxpayer money than to enrich of a handful of developers on Bend's west side.
If proponents want us to "work together," how about having OSU and ODOT figure out a solution to the traffic issue on Bend's north end. ODOT is not some imperious entity above all others. Is OSU?
Anyway, Truth in Site's email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Their facebook page is "OSU Cascades - Truth in Site."