Cathedral City to Host Rally Saturday to Save COD Auto Center

The Cathedral City municipal government is inviting residents to a rally downtown Saturday to pressure College of the Desert officials to build a long-planned automotive training facility within city limits.

“Normally the city wouldn’t take a rally stance, you know, we don’t go out and do that kind of stuff,” council member Nancy Ross told the Desert Sun. “But it’s unique.”

Saturday’s “Build It Here” rally will take place on the Cathedral City Festival lawn at 68-600 Avenida Lalo Guerrero, next to the Civic Center, starting at 9 a.m.

“This is an opportunity for the public to provide input that has been lacking in COD’s decision-making process,” according to a Facebook post on the city government’s official account. “Our students deserve equal access to higher education and the well-paying jobs they can get after they complete their education at Roadrunner Motors.”

In October, COD Superintendent/Chair Martha Garcia said the college would suspend its plan to develop the Roadrunner Motors facility off East Palm Canyon and Margot Murphy Way in Cathedral City.

Garcia said an initial financial analysis suggested that completing the installation at this site would result in the completion of the project more than $13 million over budget, a 67% increase over the company’s estimates. initial costs.

Then-Cathedral City Mayor Raymond Gregory said in a statement at the time that the decision to cancel the project was made unilaterally by the college without any prior consultation with local officials, staff or the public, and promises to spend local bond money in Cathedral City. had been broken.

“It seems obvious that those promises and that trust have been violated in the crude exercise of political power, outside of prescribed process and without transparency. That is simply not true,” Gregory said.

Months later, the college clarified that $3 million of planned cost overruns had already been approved by the board for buy the land off East Palm Canyon.

In February, the city council agreed to invite Garcia to speak at an upcoming council meeting or special meeting, but the two sides have yet to agree on a time to meet in public. .

Garcia and COD Chairman Ruben Perez will meet privately on Wednesday afternoon with Cathedral City Mayor Ernesto Gutierrez, Pro Tem Mayor Rita Lamb, City Manager Charlie McClendon and Director of Economic Development Stone James to discuss project options, Perez confirmed to The Desert Sun.

“It is with great optimism that this meeting can produce a resolution that no longer contemplates removing Roadrunner Motors from Cathedral City,” Ross told the Desert Sun.

Perez said the board would call a special public meeting on Wednesday, April 6 to vote on the future of the Roadrunner Motors site. A college spokesperson confirmed that the meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m. However, the college has yet to officially announce the meeting and the meeting agenda has not been posted online.

“The board is considering three sites,” Perez said. “The original site, an alternate site in Cathedral City, and a site in Indio by I-10 Auto Mall.”

This is a developing story; check back later for more details.

Jonathan Horwitz covers education for The Desert Sun. Contact him at [email protected] or @Writes_Jonathan.

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