W henever there is going to be something big, new and different for Bend, as much as some people will celebrate it, others fear it will ruin the town they love.
The coming of a separate campus for Oregon State University-Cascades has sired more than its quota of ruination fears. Snarled traffic and hordes of drunken students are among the most common things we have heard.
But look back at some of the things that the heralds of doom feared might ruin Bend.
It may seem silly now, but people worried what the Old Mill District might do for Bend.
It could ruin downtown. Bill Smith’s fantasy would flounder and become an unsightly eyesore.
Now, it’s hard to argue that Bend is not better because of the Old Mill District.
Then there’s the Bend Parkway, opened in 2001. That was also going to ruin Bend.
Sure, there’s plenty to quibble about. Are the ruts a permanent accessory? Why is the speed limit so low? And traffic is still a problem.
But traffic in and through Bend would be much worse without it.
There’s also the Bill Healy Bridge over the Deschutes. The concept set off a tempest.
It was going to destroy the river’s feel. It was in the wrong place. It wasn’t necessary.
What Bend got was a sweeping, beautiful connector. In the summer, adjacent Farewell Bend Park is a major attraction for people who want to enjoy the river.
The controversy around these big projects helped focus attention on the concerns people have. But these projects never got around to causing the kind of ruination that people feared. Neither will OSU-Cascades.
The campus will be a place that trains people for the future. It will be a place that helps protect Bend from downturns in the economy. It will be a place that helps bring businesses to Bend. It will stimulate Bend culturally and intellectually. It’s going to make Bend better.