A Look into COD Board of Trustees Meeting, Future of West Valley Campus

Carmela Karcher

“We are committed to build the Palm Springs development project,” Interim Executive Vice President Dr. Christina Tafoya said. “We want to build it so that we can serve the needs of students and meet the community needs to the best of our ability.”

The Coachella Valley has finally gotten some explanation on one of the desert’s biggest questions: Where does the promised West Valley campus stand?

Thursday, College of the Desert’s Board of Trustees and their partners met in a 6 hour discussion over the future of the old mall site.

“There’s a lot of talk that everything that was done before was thrown away and that it was wasted. That is not what we did,” Dr. Tafoya continued. “We started from all of the plans that have been in place for quite a long time, but there are some things that change over time. The things that we need to explain are that we spent the time this year analyzing the needs of our faculty, staff and administrators and making sure that we updated and affirmed the plans that were in place.”

In the meeting, it was confirmed that Phase 1 of the West Valley campus will be 142,000 gross square feet at the cost of $290 million with the total budget at $345.5 million.

Here is a look at the estimated project timeline:

Since the bond money can only be used for construction, actually operating the campus may become a struggle.

In the feasibility study, it was revealed that the West Valley campus could hold over 3,000 full-time equivalent students (FTES).

With current enrollment numbers, the consultant said the college would be lucky to get at most 600 FTES in one year.

Which then poses the problem of finding money to operate the campus.

C.M. Brahmbhatt with Cambridge West Partnership shared, “Constituents can give you the money to build the building, but somebody has to give you the money to operate the building.”

The college will need at least $1.5 million annually to fund campus operations.

Brahmbhatt said it is possible to receive $2 million a year from the state if the college can recruit 1,000 FTES.

Now, COD has all the information they need to move forward.

“I do want to commend this board and our leadership for not succumbing to the pressure and continuing through and requesting an updated feasibility study,” Board of Trustees Member Bea Gonzalez said. “I think this is a very good thing for us to move forward with and I think we have the information that we need to make financially sound decisions.”

The financial consultants said taxpayers in the Coachella Valley have actually paid less taxes since the measures passed than what was originally estimated.

They added about $357 million is remaining from Measure CC, one of the bonds passed for the college.

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