BEND, OR -- The President of Oregon State University delivered his State of the University Address Thursday evening in Bend. More than 350 attended the presentation at Bend's Riverhouse Convention Center. President Ed Ray says Bend is on the brink of having a four-year university, but it's not a done deal. He toured the 10-acre parcel on Bend's west side where they hope to locate the new campus. The state Land Use Board of Appeals will decide within the next month whether that project goes forward. "I got to see the 10 and a half acre site going through the state approval process to begin construction on," Ray told KBND News. "It's really is a beautiful piece of land. I can see how we could put an academic building, dining hall, a couple residence halls - I can see how that can be built out to meet our needs for the next four, five, six years."
President Ray says the former pumice mine land under consideration needs to be repurposed. "That place is now a perpetual monument to our total disregard and degradation of the environment. Is that really the best use we could make of that land? Maybe more of it could be used for a university campus than the 10.5 acres we have. We haven't secured anything. We haven't made any such decision. But I would hope to God we could com to the agreement that all of that has to be transformed into something that can be a point of pride for Bend, not a point of embarrassment."
LUBA is expected to release its decision in early June on an appeal by neighbors who oppose the site. Opponents of the expansion believe it will make traffic too congested and the parcel lacks adequate room for future growth. Ray believes the opposition is a vocal minority. "There are always 'NIMBY' people - Not In My Back Yard - I get it. I talked with a couple today who live in the area adjacent to the site, who are very positive. We want to engage people in the near-campus area, hear their complaints and concerns, and hopefully come up with a better plan than we would otherwise."