Citizens offer ideas for Bend campus

Panel wants most students to live at OSU-Cascades

By Scott Hammers / The Bulletin

A citizens committee working on the development of the Oregon State University-Cascades Campus is recommending the university seek to have more than 75 percent of students live on campus and establish a campus police department from Day One.

Members of the Campus Expansion Advisory Committee held their quarterly meeting Thursday, sharing ideas on how to minimize conflicts between the university and surrounding neighborhoods.

Michael Carr, a committee member and member of the Summit West Neighborhood Association, presented the idea that OSU-Cascades should shoot for 75 percent of students living on campus by 2025. The idea could be “controversial” to the university, he said, but keeping students on campus is one of the easiest ways to prevent traffic and noise problems from spilling into existing neighborhoods.

Carr said there also appears to be some correlation between academic performance and the proportion of a student body that live on campus. However, he said, OSU-Cascades should also encourage the city to pursue the development of high-density, multifamily housing near the campus.

Committee member Bob Sanders shared the results of sending questionnaires to universities and police departments in 10 communities determined to be somewhat similar to Bend.

Sanders said in all cases, the most frequent cause of tension between students and residents appears to be parking and “nuisance parties,” Sanders said, while the most common calls for police services on campus involved drug or alcohol abuse and the theft of electronics from students.

Sanders said OSU-Cascades should consider revising its code of conduct to include off-campus activity, and with the help of neighborhood associations, should develop a program to educate students on how to be a good neighbor.

The university should develop an arrangement with the Bend Police Department to establish a substation on campus with a single officer assigned, Sanders said, and work toward developing a dedicated campus police force as the university grows.

Committee member Karen Swirsky gave a presentation on transportation issues, making the case for “robust” bicycle parking, with facilities for students and staff to shower, change clothes and store their gear.

The university should consider providing bus passes to students and staff to encourage use of the Cascades East Transit system and could work with the transit system to develop a shuttle to move students and staff back and forth from campus to a yet-undetermined off-site parking area, the committee said. Class schedules could be set to avoid conflicts with the traffic related to the beginning and end of the school day at Cascade Middle School and other west-side K-12 schools.

Staff could be required to park off-site, Swirsky said, or the university could consider tiered pricing of permits that would require users of close-in parking to pay a premium.

Car-sharing programs may also be an option for the university. Swirsky said Jeff Monson of Commute Options has been in contact with some car-sharing companies that were previously uninterested in coming to Bend, but are growing more intrigued with the promise of a university on the way.

The university will be considering the various recommendations developed by the committee while preparing for construction of the campus and the start of the 2015-16 school year.

Becky Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades, said she was “blown away” by the range of ideas shared Thursday.

“The visions are incredible, the recommendations, I think, are right on,” she said. “Everything has a price tag, but it’s very motivating.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0387, shammers@bendbulletin.com