The university said it is in the process of obtaining construction permits for the OSU-Cascades campus, and can legally break ground during a final appeal of the project.
Local citizens group Truth in Site, which opposes the development on Bend’s west side, has said it is raising money to take its case to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
“We have assessed our risks of going forward, and feel we can make significant progress while it’s on appeal,” said Becky Johnson, OSU-Cascades vice president.
At the same time construction will be underway, the school is preparing to launch its first undergraduate freshman class this fall. It will rent space from Central Oregon Community College, and use a graduate facility until the new campus is complete.
Johnson said she’s recruited about 50 students so far, and hopes to have 100 freshman by the time school starts in September. Convincing high school seniors to chose a university that only exists on paper has been a struggle.
“We’ve been telling them that they’re pioneers, and we’re trying to offer some additional financial assistance for those students, recognizing that we don’t have the campus up and running yet, so their experience will be a little bit different,” she said.
Johnson said construction has to begin this summer for the campus to be finished in time for next year’s class. OSU hopes the campus will eventually serve close to 2,000 students.
Truth in Site has opposed the new campus on the grounds that Bend’s west side suffers from traffic congestion and has little land available for student housing.
In documents filed with the State Land Use Board of Appeals, the group argued that the city of Bend had improperly approved to the project. LUBA upheld the city’s approval of the project June 9.
The group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.