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Next step for Palomar's North Campus 'so close'

Drivers on Interstate 15 may soon be seeing a change in scenery as the plans for Palomar College’s north satellite location draw closer to being signed off by the County of San Diego.

“We are so close,” said Dr. Bonnie Ann Dowd, assistant superintendent and vice president of finance and administration. “For the past five months, we have been in the process of going through the procedures of gaining EIR compliance, such as mitigating for the disturbance of the area with the fish and wildlife department.”

As part of the mitigation process, several permits had to be obtained for landscape disturbance, and the college found itself tied up in the application process due to county budget cutbacks.

“There were a number of furloughs with the government agencies we have to deal with,” stated Dowd. “There are less people, less workdays and the same amount of work needing to be done. We were at the mercy of the process. Still, the various agencies we have been working with have been very cooperative with us.”

As the school’s administration waits to get the go ahead from the County, Dowd stated that the administration has been doing as much as possible to move the process as far as possible without the permits.

“We are making sure to do as much as we can,” said Dowd. “As we move through the process with the various agencies, we have begun preparing for grading and land preparation.”

Dowd believes the plans are only “weeks” from being resolved.

“If all goes as we have planned, we would like to place the permit for grading so that we can begin by September or early fall,” said Dowd. “We have also gone through our plans with Horse Ranch Creek Road and what that piece of road will connect to.”

Upon receiving the final documents and permits, Palomar College will begin bids for roadwork and hire an educational consultant to help plan what facilities and classes will be needed at the new satellite site. The North site is part of Palomar College’s Master Plan 2020, which also included the purchase of property in Rancho Bernardo to be converted into a southern satellite site for the community college.

“We will work with the shared governance committee master plan task force to find out the academic needs for each area,” said Dowd. “Academic needs will drive our educational plan, which will in turn drive our facilities plan.”

The college hopes to present its facilities plan to its board of trustees by the fall, and then decide which structures will be needed.

“While we are not as far as we would like to be, we are excited about what’s to come,” said Dowd.

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