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The Deschutes County Board of Commissioners on Aug. 17 will review a non-binding letter of intent between Deschutes County and Oregon State University - Cascades that provides a framework for exploring the viability of reclaiming a former demolition landfill.
The 76-acre landfill sits adjacent to OSU-Cascades’ 10-acre campus site. The letter of intent allows university officials to explore expansion options beyond the 10-acre site it owns and that is now under construction, in order to plan and develop a 3,000 to 5,000-student campus that would feature student and community gathering areas, research facilities and student housing.
Expansion options also under consideration include a 46-acre former pumice mine adjacent to the 10-acre campus, as well as buildings in close proximity to the campus. The landfill site provides yet another option from which OSU-Cascades can evaluate development of a comprehensive university campus.
Once the expansion direction is established, university officials will move to the next stage of required planning and public engagement activities. OSU-Cascades engaged in an extensive public outreach process that concluded in December 2014 when nearly 100 recommendations focusing on neighborhood livability, housing, transportation and other areas were created by a Campus Expansion Advisory Committee and adopted by the university. The recommendations will be incorporated into the 10-acre site and future planning activities.
The letter of intent between OSU-Cascades and the County allows for a two-year evaluation period of the landfill site.
“This letter of intent demonstrates OSU-Cascades and the County’s joint commitment to explore transforming the 76-acre landfill property into a higher education and community asset,” said Becky Johnson, Vice President of OSU-Cascades.
As part of the evaluation, OSU-Cascades intends to partner with OSU’s College of Engineering, Deschutes County, nationally recognized reclamation experts, and local, state and federal agencies.
The possible addition of the reclaimed landfill property could help support a CEAC task force goal to provide on-campus housing for 40 percent or more of OSU-Cascades’ full-time students.
Johnson said OSU-Cascades and the County both recognize that environmental and public health and safety considerations are a top priority. She said any remediation work would be subject to all state and federal legal and regulatory standards. Remediation considerations including possible development uses, cost-effectiveness and the availability of funding, will be assessed before the university makes any decision regarding the landfill.
Local examples of brownfields that have been successfully transformed include the Old Mill District, the Sunriver Homeowners Association Recreation Center and the Skyline Sports Complex. The Old Mill District was recognized for brownfield redevelopment by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The potential use of the landfill is a great example of how sustainable infill development can benefit the community,” said Laura Craska Cooper, a local land use attorney, member of the OSU-Cascades Board of Advisors and one of many local leaders who support transforming the unused former landfill into a viable and productive property.
Even before embarking on the land use planning and public engagement required by the City of Bend, OSU-Cascades plans to engage community residents and others in considering the future of the campus. In September, OSU-Cascades will announce details of a long-range visioning and community planning exercise focused on expansion beyond the current site.
Similar to the CEAC effort that involved more than 100 community members and faculty, the engagement will include topics such as sustainable and smart development, arts and culture, innovation and neighborhood livability.
About OSU-Cascades: Located in Bend, Ore., Oregon State University’s branch campus features outstanding faculty in degree programs that reflect Central Oregon’s vibrant economy and abundant natural resources. Eighteen undergraduate majors and four graduate programs include Energy Systems Engineering, Exercise and Sport Science, Hospitality Management, and Tourism and Outdoor Leadership. The branch campus will expand to a four-year university beginning fall 2015.