Instead of eventually paying more than $40 million to clean up its west Bend demolition landfill, Deschutes County is now on the hook for at most $1.5 million. And that’s only if unauthorized material is found.
Instead of being limited to a 46-acre campus, OSU-Cascades now has 128 acres in which to grow.
That’s a classic win-win.
After many months of negotiations, the Deschutes County Commission voted 2-1 Monday to approve the deal, which OSU President Ed Ray is expected to finalize this week with his signature. It provides for OSU to pay the county $1 for the 72-acre property, which collected construction debris from the early 1970s to the early 1991s.
The property was recently valued at $30 million, while the cost of cleanup was estimated at $43.3 million, as reporter Kailey Fisicaro detailed in Tuesday’s Bulletin. The university expects to be able to get grants to assist with cleanup costs.
Without this agreement, the county would eventually have had to spend “potentially significant costs” to do the cleanup. Deschutes County Solid Waste Department Director Timm Schimke said the landfill could not just sit there indefinitely.
For those who want Bend, and especially west Bend, to stop growing and changing, that’s an important observation. Something is going to be developed on that property. With this deal, the county ensures it’s something positive for the region, while relieving itself of significant expense.
County Commissioner Phil Henderson, the lone no vote, expressed reservations about some of the details of the deal, although he fully supports the university’s expansion. And indeed, the issues are complex enough that the county and university spent many more months working out the details than originally envisioned.
One of Henderson’s concerns deserves constructive, aggressive attention from everyone with an interest in Bend’s success: getting the Legislature to allocate appropriate revenue for the young campus to develop. Results in the most recent legislative session were disappointing, demonstrating the need for political persuasion across the aisle in Salem.