Deschutes County and Oregon State University-Cascades Campus are nearing an agreement that could give the college room to expand beyond its planned 56-acre campus in southwest Bend.
Deschutes County Administrator Tom Anderson said Thursday the county and university are in discussions about the future of the former demolition landfill site, which borders the college’s proposed campus to the north. Of the planned 56 acres, only 10 have actually been purchased. OSU-Cascades is still evaluating building on an adjacent 46-acre site that was once a pumice mine.
Anderson declined to offer specifics, but said the details of an agreement could be made public in the next two or three weeks.
The agreement “would basically outline how we would cooperate on environmental remediation work” on the landfill property, Anderson said. “But we’re also willing to allow the university to do some master planning, which would include the county-owned property.”
Master plans typically outline proposals for new construction projects.
OSU-Cascades Associate Vice President for Finance and Strategic Planning Kelly Sparks said the agreement could range from something minor that assured “good neighbor relations” to something that may lead to the landfill site being used for university construction.
Sparks mentioned sports fields, parking and housing as examples of what could be built once the landfill is rehabilitated, though she emphasized nothing has been finalized.
“Even without this added space, we are confident we have sufficient room to support the academic needs of our university and 5,000 students on the land we have already identified,” Sparks said. “It would be a luxury to think about the campus in terms of a larger space, but that additional space is not a need for us.”
OSU-Cascades officials have stated the university’s population will not exceed 5,000 students.
The county-owned landfill site, near Southwest Simpson Avenue and 14th Street, stored industrial waste and old construction material from 1972 to 1997, but has sat vacant since.
In February, Deschutes County committed $438,000 to have site assessments across the county, including the soil at the landfill. The concern is that old waste material has seeped underground and made the soil uneven, which could hinder development. The county has long considered the landfill prime development property, as Bend’s boundaries have grown and residential neighborhoods have popped up around the site.
Anderson said an agreement wouldn’t obligate the county to anything specific with the property. Besides talks with the university, the county has discussed trying to get a private development on the site.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. In the original version, the scope of Deschutes County’s environmental work was incorrect. The county paid $438,000 for site assessments across the county, not just on the demolition landfill site. The Bulletin regrets the error.