COD officials reiterate intention to complete Palm Springs campus
A much-anticipated but delayed meeting between the Palm Springs City Council and officials with College of the Desert (COD) provided no new revelations Thursday evening. Leaders from both the city and the college further solidified commitments to work together to see a satellite campus built here.
“It is remarkable the level of support in the Coachella Valley for College of the Desert,” Mayor Lisa Middleton said during a meeting that lasted more than two hours. “Many of us are concerned that that support is at risk. We want to assure that not only is the West Valley Campus built, but that we restore the level of support that COD has historically had in our community.”
At issue for the Council and dozens in the community who spoke Thursday evening, including representatives of the hospitality industry that would benefit from programs at the campus, was the feeling that COD officials were trying to back out of a commitment to build here. The campus, paid for with a portion of $924 million in bond money approved by voters throughout the Valley dating back to 2004, is currently planned at the site of a former mall off Tahquitz Canyon Way.
The campus was previously planned for land in northern Palm Springs that is now the target of a developer who hopes to build housing on the property. First, the developer must purchase the 119 acres from the college, which was gifted the land by the city a decade ago.
Councilmembers received assurances Thursday that portions of the sale of the land would be used to construct the campus in Palm Springs, returning value to city taxpayers. They were also informed that there was never a consideration of canceling the project, despite accusations by community members who continue to question why the project hasn’t broken ground after years of planning.
Instead, COD President Dr. Martha Garcia said that she requested a reevaluation of all the college’s capital projects that were not in advanced stages when she took over as president last year. Construction of the initial stages of the Palm Springs campus should be headed out to bid by this summer, Councilmembers were told, with construction finished no later than Spring of 2027.
“It is important that I communicate to the community that recommendation came from me,” Garcia said when asked about delays in moving forward with the campus. “When I realized that we needed additional input from faculty in order to be ready to submit a final plan to (the state), that came from me and was communicated to the Board of Trustees.”
Communication between the city and COD leadership is vital as the project moves forward, all agreed. They also agreed with a proposal from Palm Springs City Manager Justin Clifton that a coalition of community members, elected officials, and COD representatives should be formed to help guide what gets built in the city.
“We’re committed to working with you,” Middleton said. “If there is something that you need from us you just get on the phone with us and we will work with you on it.”
IGLA EVENT: Swimming, water polo, and exhibition artistic swimming are among the events being held this weekend as the 2022 International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) event continues in Palm Springs and the surrounding area. West Hollywood Aquatics and the Long Beach Grunions joined forces to host the event following the cancellation of the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong. IGLA 2021 in Salt Lake City was previously canceled due to the pandemic. The public is invited to attend swimming and artistic swimming events at the Palm Springs Swim Center and water polo events in Desert Hot Springs. The “pink flamingo” event, where teams stage creative performances, immediately follows athletic events Sunday in Palm Springs. A complete list of events and their times is located here.
NEW THEATER DONATION: Palm Springs Plaza Theatre Foundation President J.R. Roberts informed city officials Thursday evening that the theater’s restoration project fundraising efforts received a further $2 million pledge of support. The latest donation satisfies the matching challenge that was part of the record $5 million donation recently received from television producer David Lee. The donation includes a challenge of its own. The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, issued a challenge to the city to match this donation with a $2 million contribution. The city owns the theater, which has fallen into disrepair and needs approximately $10-$12 million to restore it and bring it up to current code. Roberts made the announcement during the regular meeting of the Palm Springs City Council, which also approved the term sheet of Lee’s donation during the session.
YOUNG PLAYWRIGHT AWARDED: The Palm Springs Young Playwrights Festival has announced Brooklyn Rutledge, a 15-year-old Paloma Valley High School student in Menifee as this year’s winner. Rutledge wrote “Main Character,” which is described as “A delightful and light comedy play within a play about mean girls in high school who are not so mean after all.” Rutledge’s play, and the plays of last year’s three winners, will be performed as staged readings on June 12 by professional actors. The young playwrights will also receive a scholarship and mentorship from theater professionals. The festival is open to all elementary, middle, and high school students in Riverside County and aims to foster excitement in young people for the arts.
? Weekend events
- Free Covid Testing is available today at the Palm Springs Convention Center from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- The Friends of the Palm Springs Library Book Sale begins today at 10 a.m. and continues on Saturday.
- The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus performs today through Sunday at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg Theater. Razzle Dazzle Shine! features songs from the stage and screen.
- Performances of Every Brilliant Thing at the Pearl McManus Theatre continue this weekend, with a final performance on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets start at $37.
- The Desert Art Center‘s next show and reception is today, starting at 5 p.m.
- Well in the Desert distributes food every Saturday at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. at 181 N. Indian Canyon Dr.
- The Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market takes place at 2300 E. Baristo Rd. from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. This weekend features a seed exchange with the Riverside County Master Gardeners’ Desert Seed Exchange.
- A charity event benefiting Ukraine is planned starting at 9 a.m. Saturday at Cafe la Jefa, 750 N. Palm Canyon Dr. The Bakers for Ukraine event will feature baked goods from Biscuit and Counter, Townie Bagels, and more.
- The Canyon Palms Neighborhood Organization holds its annual meeting Saturday starting at 10 a.m. This year’s event will be in person at the Mizell Center.
- The Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards (AKA The Chase) takes place Saturday, April 9. The annual gala, which is sold out, helps raise funds for DAP Health.
- The Waring International Piano Competition begins on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. at the Pollock Theater at College of the Desert in Palm Desert.
- The Palm Springs Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence holds its next bingo event Sunday at 7 p.m. at One Eleven Bar.