Editorial: Campus planners risk eroding support

Oregon State University-Cascade Campus planners risk eroding community support if they continue to pretend that parking and traffic are not problems.

This newspaper continues to support the planned four-year campus enthusiastically and to believe the problems are solvable and the tremendous benefits far outweigh the challenges.

But we find the public meetings disturbing.

At the second round of community meetings this week, presenters once again offered vague assurances without details and controlled the Thursday meeting’s structure to prevent full public sharing and discussion of concerns. People were urged to put their comments on paper forms and leave them in boxes.

Less than 15 minutes was spent on parking and traffic during the Thursday evening presentation segment, which included assurances that local roads are sufficient to handle the anticipated traffic. Parking problems, attendees were told, will be solved by giving students and staff free bus passes and encouraging them to walk and bike. Questions were deferred to later breakout sessions.

When it became obvious that the vast majority of those present wanted to discuss traffic and parking, organizers nevertheless insisted on turning the microphones off and moving on to the breakout sessions. That left a large group gathering around the transportation expert, struggling to hear or get questions answered. (The experience was better on Friday, when the mikes were kept on.)

The campus will be designed for approximately 1,900 students, plus staff. The parking lot has about 300 spaces. It is utterly unrealistic to think parking will not overflow into the surrounding streets and private lots. We don’t think the planners are unaware of this, and they insult the public by pretending — at least at these public meetings — that it’s not a problem.