An artist's rendering of a proposed expansion for the Oregon State University-Cascades branch campus in Bend.

An artist’s rendering of a proposed expansion for the Oregon State University-Cascades branch campus in Bend.

Oregon State University-Cascades

Oregon State University-Cascades presented a vision for its Central Oregon campus expansion to community residents in Bend on Tuesday evening. The meeting was part of OSU-Cascades’ series of community forums to gather input on the plan for the west side campus. The university now comprises three buildings on 10 acres, but it wants to grow enough for 5,000 students. 

The university is considering two growth scenarios: a 56-acre expansion on an former pumice mine or a 128-acre expansion on both the pumice mine acreage and a former county landfill. OSU-Cascades has already purchased the 46-acre former pumice mine adjacent to the current 10-acre site, and the plan is to fill in part of the mining pit and build there.

“I’m very excited about taking a disturbed piece of land that came at a very low cost to the institution and the state and being able to reclaim that in an incredibly sustainable way,” said Kelly Sparks, associate vice president of finance and strategic planning with OSU-Cascades.

OSU-Cascades’ campus plan includes a goal for net-zero energy production and an emphasis on pedestrian and bike travel. Designers plan to partially fill in the pumice mine but retain an elevation difference of about three stories between parts of the campus.

The school is also considering buying an old Deschutes County landfill for further expansion. The addition of the landfill would bring the campus to 128 acres.
Sparks says either option expansion offers strong opportunities.

“There are a lot of pieces to this vision whether it’s 56 acres or it’s 128 acres, and what we can offer Central Oregon and the state of Oregon in terms of economic value,” Sparks said.

The cost difference between the 56-acre versus the 128-acre site comes to about $13 million. That differential is so low because the 128-acre site offers more opportunities for surface parking. In the 56-acre scenario, the university would have to spend $29.2 million to build parking structures.

Deschutes County has indicated that it would be willing to sell the property to OSU-Cascades for $1, because the cost of remediating the former landfill is more than the plot is worth. The county has assessed the value of the land at $25.5 million and the cost estimate to clean up the site is $48.7 million. Only half of the 76-acre landfill site would be suitable to build structures on even after reclamation. The university would construct recreation sites and parking lots on the acres unfit for building.

OSU-Cascades has requested $69.5 million from the state to help fund the expansion. Nine million dollars of that request will go toward reclamation of the pumice mine; $11 million is for on- and off-site infrastructure. The remaining dollars will be for academic buildings and a student center.

The university and Deschutes County will decide sometime this spring whether OSU-Cascades will acquire the landfill property.