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Public joins OSU-Cascades Campus site debate

By Femi Abebefe
Published On: Mar 29 2014 02:53:26 AM CDT
Updated On: Mar 30 2014 11:50:12 AM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Femi Abebefe spoke with people on both sides of the debate after letters poured in from concerned Bend residents.

BEND, Ore. -

There is a lot of debate, including a group trying to mount a legal challenge to stop OSU-Cascades from building on the west side.

Now, as the land-use process kicks into gear, a new group has started a letter-writing campaign to support the campus location, though there also are plenty of letters going to city leaders voicing criticism of the choice.

Either way, residents are concerned and are making sure their voice is heard.

After the Truth in Site Coalition voiced their opposition of the proposed location, residents on the opposite end of the spectrum have begun to voice theirs.  

"People are going to continue to move here no matter what,” wrote Sara Yellich, a Bend resident. “I’d rather see the development of the west side be for something that's viable for the long term like a university than another housing development."

Truth in Site member Scott Morgan said Friday he believes economic expansion in other parts of the city would be beneficial.

"How about the notion of building it somewhere else in a part of the city that doesn't have that infrastructure already built out?” Morgan said. “How about investing our taxpayers’ dollars to benefit another part of our city?"

Stacey Stemach is the chair of Build a Better Bend and is on one of the task force committees addressing the myriad of issues facing OSU-Cascades in its four-year expansion plans.

Sternach believes wherever they put the four-year campus will have pros and cons.

"I definitely see validity in the concerns, but I don't think having the campus on the periphery of town is going to necessarily solve those," Stemach said.

Traffic on the west side of Bend is one of the biggest concerns raised in the debate.

"If they were saying 100 percent of the students would be living on campus, then I might be able to buy the fact that they can make an argument that it isn't going to impact traffic," Morgan said.

One resident feels the decision should best suit the students.

"If I were a college student again, I would not want to attend a university way out on the Eastside,” Yellich said. “I would want to be at a university where I was a part of the anchor to the community, where I felt I was a part of it and not just this stepchild way out on the edge of town."

City councilors said there will be a site plan approval meeting in the near future that is open to the public. As of now, no formal date has been set for that meeting.

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