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DMV Decides to Keep Bend Office Where it Is


A more than year-long debate, dispute, controversy and just general mess ended quietly Tuesday as the Oregon DMV announced that its new, permanent Bend office site will be … its existing, “temporary” one at the former Welcome Center on N. Highway 97.

“We’re going to stay where we are,” said Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Dave Thompson.

“We’ve been working on this for the last 15, 16 months,” Thompson said. “We took a long time. We wanted to do it right.”

Critics, including some in city government, accused the agency of doing it anything but right back in 2010, when the DMV announced it had leased a site in the Brookswood Meadow Plaza in southwest Bend as its new permanent spot.

Unable to negotiate a new lease at the former DMV site on Emkay Avenue on Bend’s Westside, the driver licensing agency had moved into the former Welcome Center on N. Highway 97, calling it a temporary location at the time.

But residents of the Brookswood Meadow area staged protests and voiced strenuous objections, saying their quiet neighborhood shopping center was the wrong spot for a busy DMV office. And many at City Hall were inclined to agree.

Eventually, the DMV agreed as well and scrapped those plans, saying it would launch a new search for a home.

Last fall, ODOT announced a list of possible new sites – including the former Emkay Drive home – and said one option would be to stay where it is, at an estimated $1.5 million cost for needed upgrades and renovations.

And now, the decision has been made to stay put, after all.

“It turned out to be a fairly complex process, when you’re following the rules we’ve put into effect for a long-term lease,” Thompson said.

“We checked out a number of private places to establish the DMV, and have concluded that the best place for it is where it’s at,” he said.

“I’m willing to be money that a lot of people will say, ‘Duh,'” Thompson admitted. “But we wouldn’t know that (was the right place) if we didn’t do all that.”

Thompson said the agency can make do until it asks lawmakers to fund a $1.5 million upgrade to the building and the parking lot.

Actually, about one-third of that cost would be to move out of the building during renovation that would upgrade the roughly 25-year-old building’s heating-air conditioning system, for example, and fix the parking lot, where tree roots are starting to emerge.

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