DAILY BRIEFING: Cultural center question, call for bike equipment, and more

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, March 22. Expect mainly sunny skies today and a high temperature near 88 degrees. First, some news you need to know …

Focus shifting to interior of cultural center, opening hopefully ‘within the coming year’

“We are back in action and continuing construction.” That’s the answer from a spokesperson for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians when asked one of the most common questions in Palm Springs: When will the tribe’s cultural center, under construction since 2018, open?

For now, Director of Public Relations Kate Anderson says, the exact answer remains unknown. However, hurdles have recently been cleared that should see work shift to the interior portions of the project, including the cultural museum.

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“We still have quite a bit of work to do,” Anderson recently told members of the Main Street Palm Springs business association. “We hope to be opening within the coming year. I know that I’ve been saying that a lot lately, but as soon as I have a more refined target date I will let you know.

“I promise we are coming soon, even though I don’t have an actual date for it yet.”

When that date arrives, the project — currently behind fencing in the heart of Downtown — will feature a 48,000-square-foot museum, a public plaza, an “Oasis Trail” that mimics nearby Indian Canyons, and The Spa at Se’c-he, a 40,000-square-foot facility under the direction of Daniel Spencer. He currently runs the tribe’s Sunstone Spa, a Forbes four-star operation in Rancho Mirage.

The Palm Springs spa’s centerpiece will be the water, just as it has always been at the location. Se’c-he means “the sound of boiling water.”

“The hot mineral spring located here is the tribe’s most sacred site,” Anderson says. “It does bubble up right in the middle of Palm Springs at that site.”

It’s not just any water. While currently hidden under a collection ring and at one time covered by a city roadway and sidewalk, it goes on a long journey to arrive.

“The water there does not intersect with the Coachella Valley’s water at all,” explains Anderson. “Rain and snow from Mt. San Jacinto seep down into the ground where it comes up 12,000 years later in Palm Springs. We really do know that this is ancient water. The last time this water saw the earth’s surface was more than 12,000 years ago. That was the end of the last Ice Age.”

Visitors enjoyed this bathhouse on Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians land in the 1900s. (Photo courtesy Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians)

The spa will be in its fifth iteration when it opens at the former site of the Spa Resort Casino, which was torn down starting in 2014 to build something that could protect and preserve the spring.

An original bathhouse on the site opened in the 1880s and is considered the city’s first tourist attraction. As visitors began to flock to the desert, the tribe made efforts to keep pace with demand. A bathhouse was constructed on the site in 1910, followed by mineral baths in the 1930s, and finally the hotel in 1961.

As with many projects during the pandemic, the cultural center suffered from supply chain issues. However, work continued behind the scenes, including that done by Pamela Hannah, head of operations at the museum, and Dr. Steven Karr, its executive director.

“We are just getting ready to build out the inside of the museum,” says Anderson. “Building out the exhibits and exhibition will take us time. Starting in April, we will be working completely in the interior of the building to build out the designs.”

For now, the exterior is nearly complete, as evidenced by the public square that can be seen with a bit of effort at the intersection of North Indian Canyon Drive and East Tahquitz Canyon Way.

“If you’re driving around and can see a bit through the fences, this is what you’re seeing taking shape,” says Anderson. “That’s our gathering plaza.”

? Briefly

Jerry Alcorn works on a bike belonging to a member of the Come Ride With Us youth bike club in Palm Springs.

HELP FOR CRWU: A Palm Springs youth bike club is in need of supplies, and its volunteer mechanic put out the call for them on social media. Jerry Alcorn said last week he needs tubes, tires, and more equipment to help the Come Ride With Us (CRWU) stay rolling as it meets twice a month at the James O. Jesse Desert Highland Unity Center. “It would be awesome to have a bicycle repair stand just for James O. Jessie or a basic bicycle repair kit,” Alcorn wrote. “What you would be doing here, people, is helping grow the community, getting kids involved. and having them love something that’s (going to) usually cost them a ton of money.” Alcorn, who operates an adaptive bicycle shop, typically absorbs the cost of materials to help the bicycle club, but its needs are often greater than his resources. Anyone in the community is welcome to contribute to the Amazon Wish List (which can be seen here) that he built, Alcorn said, or drop off supplies or cash donations to his shop, located at 753 Williams Rd., from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. He will also be on hand Friday afternoon when CRWU meets at 4 p.m. outside the unity center, 480 Tramview Road.

POOL VANDALIZED: Swimmers hoping to use the city pool at Sunrise Plaza the past three days instead found the doors closed following reported vandalism to the facility. City officials said Monday they hope to re-open the pool this morning. Visitors to the facility were frequently frustrated in January when the pool was shut down due to staffing shortages as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 swept the nation. This closure, however, was the work of vandals who reportedly decided to use the pool as a public toilet after hours. “This needs to be addressed,” wrote one resident in an email to the city Monday. “The pool is a huge part of the community’s wellness and it’s safeguarding needs to be given some priority.” The city is making the issue a priority, said Jeannie Kays, who is serving as the interim parks and recreation director, and is hoping to beef up security and improve fencing at the facility.

SHOOTING ARRESTS: Two men suspected of shooting at and injuring people in Downtown Palm Springs early Monday morning are behind bars in Indio facing possible attempted murder charges. Palm Springs police said that the men, a 27-year-old from Desert Hot Springs and a 31-year-old from Palm Springs, were apprehended within minutes of first reports of a shooting at 1:50 a.m. near Arenas Road and South Indian Canyon Drive. Their victims, who were not identified, were transported to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. “Officers were in the area when the shooting occurred and were given a description of the suspects and suspect vehicle,” police said in a statement. “Within minutes, officers located the suspects … and placed them under arrest.” Police did not say what may have led up to the incident. Both men were booked on possible charges of attempted homicide and assault with a deadly weapon. One of the men was also booked on suspicion of battery on a spouse, former spouse, or date, as well as a parole violation. Both are scheduled for an initial court appearance Wednesday at 8 a.m.

? Today’s events

For more events in Palm Springs, check out our complete community calendar. Want your event listed? Just click here to add you event.

? What to watch for

  • Palm Springs The Musical: Born to Sparkle premieres at Desert Rose Playhouse on Thursday. It runs Thursdays through Sundays until April 10.
  • The Palm Springs Air Museum annual gala is planned for Friday.
  • Desert Ensemble Theatre begins a two-weekend run of All This Intimacy on Friday.
  • The Negro Academic Scholarship Fund Banquet will be held March 26 at 7 p.m. Information on how to RSVP, purchase tickets, and donate can be found here.
  • A benefit for REAF-Palm Springs and the city’s AIDS Memorial Sculpture is planned for March 26 from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at a private home in the city.
  • Nickerson-Rossi Dance Theater presents its inaugural Indigenous Dance Residency March 26 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Desert Winds Freedom Band presents a pair of 20th anniversary concerts, March 26 and March 27.
  • Trans Pride 2022 takes place March 27 at Francis Stevens Park from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
  • High Heels In The Jungle, starring Palm Springs’ own Sydney Weisman, is on stage at The Arthur Newman Theater on March 27 at 3 p.m.
  • Palm Canyon Theatre is staging Cyrano de Bergerac from March 31 until April 3.

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