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Trustees battle over the future of College of the Desert’s Palm Springs campus

There could be more fireworks when College of the Desert's Board of Trustees meets Thursday. Trustees are being asked to approve the latest Palm Springs Campus Development Project Schematic Design.

We're getting a side-by-side look this week at Palm Springs Campus plans, produced this year, compared to those two years ago under former COD President Joel Kinnamon's direction. It was something he requested at last month's meeting. 

“There are many things in here that have now been eliminated,” Kinnamon said during January's board meeting.

The two designs for the same site in Palm Springs show different visions. 

(Left) 2021 Full-size campus built out
(Right) 2023 Phase1 of partial campus design

COD leaders say the 2023 version of the plan is a financially sustainable plan that the current student attendance numbers can support.

Also different, classrooms with movable walls, allowing for different uses are no longer included in the 2023 design.  And a learning hotel and villas are no longer in the immediate plans.

Kinnamon, now a trustee, raised his concerns to the board during last month's meeting saying he had a lot of questions to ask.

“And I’ll give you a history lesson at that next meeting about that and who decided to pull the plug,” Kinnamon said. 

There was also a tense exchange with fellow Trustee Bea Gonzalez.

”Good. As long as you have all the documents, I’ll be happy with that,” Gonzalez told Kinnamon. 

Kinnamon replied, “I have the documents, I’ve actually been sleeping with them the past two years.”

Kinnamon said he wants to compare both plans and move forward with the best of both.

It's been nearly twenty years since voters approved a bond to pay for the Palm Springs campus and other initiatives.

Check Out: Palm Springs sues College of the Desert for West Valley Campus planning records

Thursday's meeting will also discuss a motion to censure Trustee Rubén Pérez who is accused by staff and Kinnamon of violating an ethics standard board policy. Staff says he disrespected them by comparing them to a “cesspool" in our local media.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates.

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Jeff Stahl

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