Letter: Name-calling could undermine support for campus

By Gary Lang /

OSU-Cascades enjoys strong support that will continue in the long term if shortsighted name-calling doesn’t undermine the goal. There are many proponents that have specific issues. Let us deal with the issues and not denigrate those with issues.

As a three-year Deschutes County resident near Redmond and retired, I have followed the OSU-Cascades expansion planning since the site-selection controversies surfaced. I visited the planned site and was surprised to see a deep excavation with limited access and restrictive cliffs limiting usable space. The potential speculated expansion to the north is a covered dumpsite with a history of rot and smolder. I was perplexed by the choice of the mine site, as well as how firmly OSU committed and how city planners seemed complicit. I learned of the traffic, parking, housing and utility issues and understood the citizen outcry.

I disagree with John Costa’s dooming speculation that we all get on board or risk loss; the support will prevail over time. I favor focusing on the university’s long-term presence, cost and implications. Problem solving now is better than dealing with unintended consequences of planning squeezed by short-term urgency.

Costa attempts to undermine the citizens and not focus on their issues. He writes dramatically that “if we allow a relatively few, privileged citizens advancing their domestic tranquility to delay unto death decades of dreams and dedicated work to build a better Central Oregon, then we should hang our heads in shame.” He piles on saying, “dream killers have the loudest voices” and that campus opponents have a “cynical selfishness” and a “destructive instinct.” I think the issues raised by sincere citizens are valid and are well received.

Then we read the “Big Brother knows best” ploy. Costa writes that it is OSU’s land, money and expertise that are in all of our interests. It seems the citizens’ issues are not worthy. Costa makes the point that a property owner “wants nothing to disturb the presumptions he had about his future surroundings.” Costa then declares, “Who could possibly make such a claim on any community, but especially one as dynamic as Bend?” Thankfully, citizens and property owners understand zoning and the legal rights. When zoning rules are “dynamic” (changeable), defined procedure unfolds. This is our shared rule of law, our recourse when our rights are thought to be impinged. I think the citizens will get it right.

The focus issue is where OSU-Cascades will be located. OSU-Cascades, the city of Bend and Deschutes County are all public institutions ultimately responsible to the citizenry. Somehow, sufficient citizen understanding and influence in the siting process has failed.

OSU and planners favor an “urbanized campus” with no playing fields, no gym, limited cars, limited space, limited housing and proximity to Bend’s amenities to “encourage attendance.” I think a rethinking is in order.

The option of site sharing with Central Oregon Community College needs airing. At COCC, infrastructure exists, space is ample and cooperative use is established. A university is a collection of colleges, and unity should be possible.

What were the requirements that OSU planned from, and were they right? Site options have been partially discussed in The Bulletin. The property between U.S. Highway 97, China Hat Road and Knott Road might be a beautiful campus site. Juniper Ridge has been discounted as needing infrastructure and being “away” from Bend attractions. Countless colleges and universities have been built on the outskirts and almost always become integrated with community. Short-term infrastructure burdens can be resolved. It is the total long term that I value.

I am supportive of OSU-Cascades’ expansion. There are specific valid issues to resolve. Demonizing citizens with reasonable issues discredits Costa’s message and hurts the shared goal of a successful OSU-Cascades.

— Gary Lang lives in Redmond.