Making Bend a college town

Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin

Michael Carr knows the difference between a college town and “a town with a college.”

Carr, 69, retired to Bend from Lancaster, Pa,, home to Franklin and Marshall College, a private liberal arts college of about 2,300 students.

“They were able to draw their students on campus because they had a focus on activities,” Carr said. “Lancaster was definitely a town with a college.”

Down the road, however, is Millersville, Pa., home to Millersville University, a public university of about 8,500 students.

“That's a college town,” Carr said. “There's a lot of pizza places and bars and the feel and personality is just very different from Lancaster.”

Carr openly expresses his love of Bend, but like many others, is concerned with how the new four-year Oregon State University-Cascades Campus will affect the city. “I'm happy that OSU is coming, but I don't want to be naive and assume everything will just happen to go smoothly,” he said. “I think it will need to integrate itself into the community, well, softly.”

OSU-Cascades is hoping others will take the same approach Carr has — instead of just asking questions from afar, Carr has involved himself by attending Campus Expansion Advisory Committee meetings.

The group is led by Matt Shinderman, a senior instructor of natural resources at OSU-Cascades, and Jodie Barram, Bend's mayor pro tem.

Becky Johnson, an OSU vice president and the highest ranking administrator at OSU-Cascades, recruited the committee's initial members, seeking individuals with expertise in areas where the university anticipates challenges, such as health care and transportation.

“We knew that there had to be community leadership involvement as we were building this big addition to Bend and Central Oregon,” said Christine Coffin, the university's communications director.

At CEAC's most recent meeting Oct. 2, the committee divided into task forces to address transportation demand management; sustainability; utilities, public safety and land use; housing; neighborhood livability; fitness and recreation; health care; child care; education and research partnerships; and regional collaboration.

“The idea is to incorporate you in such a way that we get recommendations from the task force level that go up to the administration level,” Shinderman told the committee.

Kelly Sparks, associate vice president for finance and strategic planning, said “anyone is welcome to attend the meetings.” Sparks, however, did caution that it would not be practical to involve everyone in a task force. “It's not possible to have a focused meeting with 30 people in the room,” she said, adding that anyone is welcome to offer their input via email or phone. The university is working out when and how to host large “interactive” community meetings once plans begin to take shape.

Sparks said planning and building the campus without CEAC would be possible but much more difficult.

“I wouldn't say we couldn't do it without them,” she said. “But it's incredibly valuable, and we want it to be a collaborative effort. OSU staff will be on all the task forces, and I don't know what will come out of them, but I'm sure there will be exciting and innovative ideas. But without community involvement, OSU-Cascades never would have happened in the first place.”

Sparks said that the task forces will not be designing buildings or placing parking lots, but they will be setting up the “guiding principles” and “best practices” that will frame the approach of a professional development team that has yet to be hired.

Two fronts

OSU-Cascades is approaching its campus development from two angles. The first is focused on 2015 and the goal of having something ready for its first four-year students. The second takes a wider perspective on developing the campus into a hub for 5,000 students by 2025.

“I think about it as getting to 2015 and then everything after,” Sparks said.

To prepare for 2015, the university hopes to construct a multi-building, 146,000 square-foot “living and learning” center on the smaller of the two properties it purchased, a wooded 10.44-acre site at 1500 S.W. Chandler Ave.

The university will have to raise funds to construct the “living” component of this complex, as the $24 million raised by the university has been allocated for the land purchase and the construction of academic and research facilities.

Sparks said the university is weighing three options for funding residential facilities. The first is to borrow money from the OSU Foundation. The second is to request a revenue bond backed by OSU. In both cases, the revenue generated by students living in the facility would help to cover the cost.

The university is also investigating a public-private partnership with INTO, a group that brings international students to campuses. Under this model, INTO would build the residence facilities, and OSU would lease a portion of them for traditional students. The remaining spaces would be used by international students recruited by INTO. A similar program already exists on the main OSU campus in Corvallis within the $52 million International Living-Learning Center.

Regardless of how they are housed, more students will mean more cars. To assess the traffic impact of this initial site, the university will hire a transportation engineer.

“I don't want to downplay anything, but our initial growth will be 150 students, about half of whom will live on campus,” Sparks said. “We met with the city manager and transportation engineer and talked about this location and we all believed it to be manageable.”

Asked what transportation issues the university anticipates, Sparks said, “I don't know, but rather than coming in with a preconceived notion of what the problems will be, we will be relying on an expert to inform us.”

To assess the longer-term impacts of the full campus, the city of Bend was awarded a Transportation and Growth Management grant from the state.

“We were going for $150,000 and wanted to raise $50,000 to $100,000 locally,” said Jon Skidmore, Bend assistant city manager, at CEAC's last meeting. “We received notice that we received the grant, but the money is still coming together. The idea is that we will create new standards for west side transportation, but it's a two-year process just to get through the TGM.”

Another challenge for the short and long terms will be setting up the partnerships that will allow the university to serve the needs of a larger student body.

“We've created a list of all the services a university typically offers and we are going to go through and decide what we will offer and where we will partner with another group,” Sparks said. “Providing academics is our core mission, but what services do we push out so we can focus on academic opportunities?”

The services under consideration range from the complicated, such as health care, to the easily overlooked, such as printing and mailing. These decisions will be considered by CEAC, which has committees on health care and recreation, two areas administrators have identified as suited to partnerships.

There are health care facilities — including a branch of Bend Memorial Clinic — and recreation facilities — Bend's Skyline Sports Complex — within one half-mile of the campus.

These amenities, Sparks says, were a big reason the university chose the city's west side for its campus. Sparks was hesitant to identify specific businesses that the university was happy to have in its neighborhood, but she did say she was “excited by how much variety there is along Century Drive, including restaurants, bars, coffee, groceries, and commercial.”

There are more questions about how the campus will develop in the longer term, but Sparks emphasized that asking the right questions and allowing time to answer them is important. Within the next two months, the university will bring in architects, engineers, urban planners and other experts to engage in a brainstorming process about the potential of the campus's long-term future. The task forces and experts' brainstorming will inform how the university recruits a team to actually design and build the campus. For now, there are no official plans to evaluate.

“It's fun,” Sparks said. “We can create safe spaces, learning environments that are innovative and different, gathering spaces for students that are both inside and outside. We don't want to make a campus that is current, we want to make one that will utilize the technology that will be ready 10 years from now.”

The university has yet to finalize its land purchase as it evaluates the environmental conditions of both parcels. The most obvious challenge is turning a massive pumice mine into usable space. The university has up to $7 million to prepare the site and Sparks says that rough estimates place the amount of fill needed at 1.6 million cubic-yards.

The site is large enough that Sparks was able to reasonably joke, “to the chagrin of many, we will not be building a football stadium inside the mine.”

Tentative Campus Expansion Advisory Committee task force members

Transportation

Jeff Monson, Commute Options

Karen Swirsky, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development

Stacey Stemach, River West Neighborhood Association

Eric King, City of Bend Manager

Scott Aycock, Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council

TBD, Mt. Bachelor

Sustainability

TBD, Southern Crossing Neighborhood Association

ML Vidas, architect

Steven Ames, Bend 2030

Brian Rankin, City of Bend Long Range Planner

Phil Chang, COIC

Oran Teater, OSU-Cascades Advisory Board, former Bend mayor

Mike McLandress, construction and sustainability

RJ Johnson, architect

Angela Price, Pacific Power

Housing

Kim Travis, Oregon Housing and Community Services

Whitney Cox, OSU-Cascades Student

Stacey Stemach, eco-districts

Jim Long, City of Bend Affordable Housing Coordinator

Neighborhood livability

Steven Ames, Bend 2030

Bob Brell, Century West Neighborhood Association

Mike McLandress, construction and sustainability

Don Horton, Bend Park and Recreation

Anne Aurand, City of Bend Community Relations Manager

Michael LaLonde, Bend Chamber of Commerce

Bill Wagner, Chair, Bend Planning Commission

Health care

Christy McLeod, Bend Memorial Clinic

Lee Kearney, OSU alumnus

Wendy Castillo, OSU-Cascades Student

Linda Porzelius, OSU-Cascades

TBD, St. Charles

Child care

TBD, OSU-Cascades Student

TBD, COCC

Andrew Davis, OSU-Cascades

TBD, High Lakes

Education and research partnerships

Roger Lee, EDCO

Dennis Schaberg, Deschutes Economic Alliance

Brad Henry, Bend-La Pine Schools

Jim Middleton, COCC

Matt Mercer, Bend Parks and Recreation

Michael LaLonde, Bend Chamber of Commerce

RJ Johnson, architect

Regional collaboration

Scott Aycock, COIC

Connie Kearney, OSU alumnus

Allan Unger, Deschutes County Commission

Andrew Spreadborough, COIC

Jon Stark, EDCO Redmond

Todd Dunkleberg, Deschutes County Library

Courtney Sneed, Madras COCC

Jason Carr, Prineville

OSU-Cascades Associate VP of Finance and Strategic Planning, Kelly Sparks, right, answers questions Wednesday during the Campus Expansion Advisory Committee meeting at the OSU Cascades Graduate and Research Center in Bend.