BEND, Ore. – Oregon State University President Ed Ray signed documents Wednesday that finalized the purchase of a 72-acre former Deschutes County landfill that will expand the footprint of the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend to 128 acres.
Key among the features planned for the expanded campus is an innovation district that will foster partnerships between university researchers, students and startup companies in high-tech, bio-tech and other industries. The future innovation district is estimated to contribute $282 million annually to the Deschutes County economy and $318.8 million annually in total state economic impact by 2025, according to ECONorthwest, an economics consulting firm.
“The acquisition of the landfill is a benefit for both OSU-Cascades and the community,” said Becky Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades. “This is a visionary opportunity to bring unused land back into public use for higher education, reduce the impact of campus construction on the surrounding community, grow the economy, and develop amenities for our community like walking and biking paths, natural areas and athletic fields.
“This is an environmental, community, higher education and economic win,” Johnson said. “And not just for Central Oregon, but for all of the state.”
Plans for the expanded campus include buildings and features to support academic and experiential learning, health and recreation, and student and workforce housing.
The purchase follows a nearly two-year study of the landfill during which OSU-Cascades collaborated with OSU’s College of Engineering, state and federal agencies, and reclamation experts to evaluate remediation strategies. The resulting remediation approach may reduce an estimated 29,600 truck trips on local roads to partially fill an adjoining former pumice mine that makes up the OSU-Cascades campus. Instead, remediated soil from the landfill will be used to terrace the former mine. Planning for the future campus, which is anticipated to enroll 3,000 to 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students, has been underway since 2013.
Over a nearly two-year community engagement process to gather input for a long range development plan for the future campus, community member attendance at meetings totaled 1,500. With the certainty of the campus footprint, the university can finalize its master plan for submission to the city of Bend.
Ray was authorized to complete negotiations and finalize the purchase by the OSU Board of Trustees at a meeting on Oct. 20.