Palm Springs New COD Campus Makes Progress
The College of the Desert (COD) will unveil the signage of the new West Valley Campus, on the northwest corner of Tramview Road and North Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. It will take place on Wednesday, May 4 at 11:30 a.m.
A study commissioned by COD revealed the majority of students attending the new campus will originate from the city of Desert Hot Springs. Four years ago, during discussions about possibly locating the West Valley Campus in DHS, the city stood alone and was at odds with other cities, environmental groups, and the county for having failed to participate in the MSHCP conservation program. DHS city leaders promoting the DHS location also failed to convince local resident Chuck Hayden who has represented the city a member of the COD board of trustees for the last 25 years.
“I voted for the Palm Springs campus in order to make it unanimous,” said Hayden explaining why he voted against the proposed DHS campus. Shortly thereafter Hayden was re-elected to serve another four-year term.
There is no bus route connecting DHS with the new campus. In addition to aiding local student access, DHS leaders had hoped to reap economic benefits from a COD campus in the city as the city has no economic anchor for the 30,000 residents. Those benefits will now go to Palm Springs, already a rich city. The city of Indio recently announced the location of a COD East Valley Campus in their downtown core as a means to facilitate redevelopment.
The Palm Springs unveiling will be attended by COD officials and VIP’s along with local dignitaries. COD President Patton, Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, and Southern California Edison‘s Manager of Solar Rooftop Programs Rudy Perez, will deliver brief remarks. The event and parking will be held at the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 Tramview Road, Palm Springs.
Besides educational programs, the West Valley Campus will feature commercially-operated facilities for research & development, business incubation of ‘clean technologies’ and a 60-acre “GreenPark” site where energy will be generated by a Southern California Edison through photovoltaic solar systems. The campus will create its own energy and be a showcase for “Green Technology” both in terms of infrastructure and job training programs as the goal of a joint initiative with the cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs. It could have the potential to generate energy for 5,200 homes and even provide a revenue stream for COD from the sale of surplus energy.
The uniquely self-contained and sustainable campus will be integrated with existing facilities on a site at the northwest corner of Indian Canyon Drive and Tramview Road in Palm Springs and will serve the entire western valley. The James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center already occupies a portion of the site. The first phase of the campus would cost about $40 million and be operational by the 2014/15 academic year, according to current estimates.
The proposed West Valley Campus will be designed and constructed in accordance with COD’s recently-adopted Policy on Sustainability Stewardship and move beyond simply living within available resources to a strategy of designing a holistic operating campus that is compatible with, and learns from, our desert ecology.
College officials recently announced the selection of the design team for the 119-acre campus. The team consists of Santa Monica architectural firm HGA, which is partnering with well-known local architect Lance O’Donnell of o2 Architecture, leading Coachella Valley firms RGA Landscape Architects and MSA Consulting, Inc., and construction management firm Sundt Construction, Inc. Together, they will plan and design the self-sustainable campus that will serve the western valley cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs.
The team was chosen because of their holistic approach to architectural design and their many years of experience in planning and designing energy efficient, sustainable campuses for colleges and universities. HGA and other members of the design team, including the program management team of EIS Professionals at COD, have a strong and proven commitment to sustainability.
The new campus is being developed with proceeds from bond sales authorized when voters approved Measure B by a huge margin in 2004. Measure B is a $346.5 million bond issue that included a mandate to acquire sites and construct satellite campuses to serve the west and east portions of the Coachella Valley. The East Valley Campus in Mecca/Thermal opened in 2009.
The City of Palm Springs acquired the 119 acres on which the campus will be located from the Bureau of Land Management and has transferred the land to Desert Community College District for College of the Desert’s new West Valley Campus.