BEND, Oregon — Oregon State University-Cascades has purchased a pumice mine for the expansion of its Bend campus.
The university will pay more than $7.9 million to 4R-Equipment, a subsidiary of local construction company Jack Robinson and Sons, to close the deal for the 46-acre property, according to The Bulletin (http://is.gd/rNhvp6). The university intends to open the new campus to students when the 2016-17 school year begins.
University officials had been eyeing the property since 2013, when it purchased an adjacent 10-acre site. Building has been underway at the smaller site since last summer. Even before the deal for the larger property was finalized the university had begun preliminary planning for a larger campus.
OSU-Cascades officials say they plan to plan to eventually enroll 3,000 to 5,000 students, but the new campus will open this fall with a student population of about 1,000.
OSU-Cascades President Becky Johnson said Tuesday that the larger site will be developed in stride with student growth.
"Now that we will have a campus next year, we will start to get that bump in enrollment we expect," she said.
Johnson said the school is continuing to consider purchasing a third property adjacent to the first two.
OSU-Cascades has been embroiled in a legal battle with opponents of the campus. With citizens' group Truth in Site raising concerns about how the campus could affect liability and traffic in Bend's west side.
Truth in Site's appeals of the city's decision to approve the campus plan have been rejected by the state Land Use Board of Appeals and the Oregon Court of Appeals. The state Supreme Court declined to hear the case last month.
Truth in Site has argued that by purchasing the 10-acre property first, the university skirted a city requirement for a more comprehensive plan for any development larger than 20 acres.
Johnson said she's unsure what kind of resistance the university will face when it seeks approval for the expanded campus, but believes that the first phase was not duplicitous and should help calm some concerns.
"My goal all along has been to get the 10-acre site up and running so people can get used to what it's like to have a small university campus," she said. "I honestly don't think it will be as impactful as people think."
Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com