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Palm Springs residents, mayor express concern over College of the Desert campus expansion delay

The city of Palm Springs is raising concerns about the fate of a planned college campus in one of its neighborhoods. 

Mayor Christy Holstege called into The Board of Trustees for College of the Desert's meeting during public comments Thursday evening to share worries regarding west valley construction projects.

Holstege said she, along with residents of Palm Springs, are worried “about how COD is operating and have questions about how decisions are being made.”

The new Palm Springs campus is expected to be built on the site of the now abandoned Palm Springs Mall, located at S. Farrell Dr. and E. Tahquitz Canyon Way.

She noted COD's decision last month to pause an automotive program expansion project in Cathedral City. 

Holstege said she and residents are “extremely concerned about the quick decision to cancel the COD campus long-planned in Cathedral City with nearly 5 years of planning with that governmental agency, the city, and hundreds of residents.”

The mayor also said she and her residents are “equally concerned about the Palm Springs campus.” 

City Manager Justin Clifton is among other Palm Springs officials that said they share the same concerns.

Clifton told News Channel 3 in an interview Friday afternoon, “if something like that can happen in that instance, it certainly begs the question for residents and stakeholders here in Palm Springs, what’s going to happen with this campus?”

In her public comments Thursday evening, Holstege cited the $22 million dollars in taxpayer funds that COD used to purchase the property intended for the Palm Springs expansion, which now sits vacant. 

She noted that the site wasn’t always vacant and that it once housed “an existing vocational school with students attending.”

Holstege said that now “the site sits vacant with no information from COD, the President, the Trustees about the future of the Palm Springs campus” and added “it’s unclear what will happen at that site.”

Holstege, who has served on the Palm Springs City Council since 2017, has had numerous meetings with the COD Board of Trustees and staff since then. 

She said they have been “promised that there will be shovels in the ground in 2023.”

College of the Desert released a statement to News Channel 3 Friday afternoon stating in part, “The College is actively reviewing all concepts and designs.“

It added, “we look forward to working with our partners on these projects.”

In the meantime, Mayor Holstege and other City officials are urging COD “to meet with the Palm Springs City Council to have conversations with residents and provide updates about when and how" the project will proceed.

Stay with News Channel 3 for new developments on this story.

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Jennifer Franco

Jennifer Franco is the weekend anchor/weekday reporter for KESQ News Channel 3

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