After years of false starts, funding for the long-planned new Palm Beach State College campus in Loxahatchee Groves has finally made it through the state appropriations process, getting added to the budget by the Florida State Legislature and given the stamp of approval by Gov. Rick Scott this week.
Several times before, the legislature has approved the funds, only to have it vetoed on the governor’s desk. This year, Scott let the funding stand. Now, it’s time to take advantage of this good fortune and get construction started in earnest.
The $6 million allotment will go a long way toward completing the initial phase of the campus’s construction, giving Palm Beach State College the opportunity to finally build its long-promised campus in the western communities. College trustees approved the educational specifications for the first phase of the campus last fall. In addition to architectural design, site paving, drainage and utility infrastructure, the first phase will include a 50,000-square-foot multipurpose classroom/administration building.
Already, work has been done on the 75-acre site on Southern Blvd. at B Road. Trees have been cut and soil primed, which hopefully means the college can get shovels in the ground quickly on what will most certainly be a decades-long process before the multi-phase campus is finally completed. However, the first buildings will be serving students in just a year or two. Once completed, local students won’t have to travel so far to get an education, something that will help make the western communities attractive to businesses, families and professionals.
Keeping the rural style of the surrounding area, the campus will be heavily landscaped and buffered from nearby homes. And with its convenient location on Southern Blvd., hopefully it will become a crucial economic engine for our area.
Two years after getting the necessary approvals for the new campus, it’s important that Palm Beach State College gets the ball rolling quickly. Though it has only been recently that the school has secured a site, a western communities campus has been on the drawing board for a decade, and it’s important the community sees it through.
Hopefully, it will be smooth sailing from here on out. While these projects often face hurdles, we hope that support from the community will propel the college along and make these long-awaited plans a reality.