Local leaders question a possible larger reason behind COD’s hasty decisions

Regina Yurrita

What happened and what is going on? These are both questions that locals and city leaders are demanding College of the Desert answer, after several decisions were made with no real communication.

“I am extremely concerned about the actions of College of the desert and staff,” said Christy Holstege.

College of the Desert President, Martha Garcia explained just 3-months-ago that there would be a future for a Palm Springs COD campus. In an interview with NBC Palm Springs back in July, Garcia said, “I really want to share with the palm springs city council and the community what will occur there, and I can tell you it’s very innovative. It’s the first community college in California that will have a learning hotel.”

All these months later and still no answers. 

The long-planned Palm Springs campus has already seen the investment of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. 

The old mall was razed to the ground to make way for the campus.

But the mayor says there’s been no action to start construction on the vacant lot.

“They promised a west side campus for 15 years. They have taxed us twice, they have a billion dollars in bond funding that they have taxed taxpayers and they taxed us by promising a west valley campus as well as an expansion campus,” said Christy Holstege.

In October COD announced it would abandon its plan to develop the Roadrunner Motors Automotive Technology Center in Cathedral City, because the project was too far over budget.

“We have been given a number of reasons that frankly don’t pan out. The little bit that has been kind of leaked to us…none of it makes any sense,” said Raymond Gregory, mayor of Cathedral City. 

While unanswered questions persist in the west valley, the city of Coachella unexpectedly announced a new COD project, meant to bring more accessibility for students. However this has also raised questions among community members.

“You want to create a campus in Coachella which would be great for access. But we have two east valley campuses that have been in utilization and so while it would be great to have one in Coachella, what do we have that is going on right now? Why haven’t we developed the one in thermal? There’s a large population of underrepresented communities of interest there,” said Frank Figueroa.

Knowing that the Thermal-Mecca campus has seen few investments and the vision of the Indio campus has not been fully realized, locals and city leaders posit there’s something else going on behind these hasty decisions. 

“There certainly can be a larger meaning. When it was initially reported. The discussion wasn’t about student needs or vocational training. It was the need to secure funding for something else,” said Gregory.  

However, what that is exactly, is up to the College of the Desert to explain.

NBC Palm Springs reached out to the president of College the Desert, but did not respond to our interview. 


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