It is critical for prospective College of the Desert students that the West Valley Campus be built and operational as quickly as possible. The process to date under the new administration of President Martha Garcia has created a clear lack of credibility, transparency and trust for both her administration and the board.
The whole process seems to have been so mishandled that I suspect it’s already too late to change the growing view among many members of the Coachella Valley that decisions are made behind closed doors, with no clarity of facts, and that there are unspoken agendas at work and manipulation of the process to support a biased outcome.
Ideally, the new administration would have taken the 50% original schematic design and worked closely with Palm Springs representatives, the business community, the high school system, and key faculty members to move this project forward. expedited manner so that these facilities can be made available to the student population as quickly as possible. However, we know that the process was put on hold and key consultants working on the plans were fired by Dr. Garcia without any prior communication with the community. This also happened with the planned Automotive Training Center in Cathedral City.
This valley is supported by $7 billion annually related to the hospitality industry, so hospitality management, restaurant management, culinary arts, entertainment and event management, and support services are essential to the continued economic vitality of the valley. These educational fields can offer career opportunities with salaries well over $100,000 per year. Given the commercial, hospitality-oriented nature of our valley, this provides our local students with the opportunity to stay in the valley and also equips them with the skills to work anywhere in the world.
The presentations at Thursday’s board meeting helped clarify process, timeline and program changes to date; however, these discussions on the west valley campus under the direction of Dr. Garcia have been going on for over a year and we only just heard the requested information a year ago. The fundamental concern expressed at the meeting was the inflationary increase in construction costs of around 20% over the past year.
While we all hope the Federal Reserve will get inflation under control soon, the current situation means that less can be built with the remaining bond funds available. This makes the decision-making process even more important to ensure that the right facilities are designed and built in a timely manner.
While the creation of the new advisory board is a good step, albeit another very late step, the level of transparency and communication must continue to grow exponentially to overcome the missteps that the board and administration have committed. nowadays. To that end, I would encourage the change of some board members in this next election so that the new board can hopefully regain the support and trust of all those who are now skeptical of the process and concerned about the validity of the proposed plan. .
Shelley Kaplan is a former Cathedral City council member and retired higher education campus planner. Email him at [email protected]