OSU-Cascades wants to clean up the former county landfill for its campus expansion.
The 72-acre landfill has been closed since 1993. The land is valued at $30 million, less than the $43 million it will cost to clean it up. OSU-Cascades plans to pay for remediation and so the county is selling that land to the university for $1.
County Commissioner Tony DeBone voted in favor of the sale. He said it saves the county money in the long run.
“There’s long-term maintenance with a landfill, always,” DeBone said. “Even if we were to put some more dirt on it and put grass on it and go fly kites out there it still costs money. So it’s an opportunity for a university— we’ll see what we can do out there.”
County commission chair Tammy Baney also voted in favor of the sale. Commissioner Phil Henderson voted no, citing concerns that the county could be on the hook to clean up the land if OSU-Cascades can’t secure funding.
“If it doesn’t happen, what happens after that?” Henderson said. “We’re on the hook in perpetuity after that.”
The campus consists of just a few buildings on 10 acres, but the university eventually hopes for OSU-Cascades to build on 128 acres. The university has already acquired a 46-acre former pumice mine adjacent to the existing 10 acres. University officials are hoping that lawmakers allocate more funding for OSU-Cascades in the upcoming February 2018 session. This summer, lawmakers approved $9.5 million for OSU-Cascades, just a small slice of the university’s $69.5 million request.
OSU officials are optimistic about the landfill agreement.
“This is an opportunity to bring unused land near the center of Bend back into public use, to create a vibrant university campus for future students, and to serve economic development in both our region and state,” said OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson.
OSU-Cascades hopes to eventually enroll 5,000 students.