Groundbreaking ceremony held for PBSC Loxahatchee Groves campus
Palm Beach State College held a groundbreaking ceremony today for its long-planned Loxahatchee Groves campus that will provide more convenient access to classes for residents in the county’s growing west central communities.
More than 100 people, including local and state elected officials and community and business leaders, attended the ceremony under a tent on the 75-acre campus site at the northwest corner of Southern Boulevard and B Road. The campus is slated to open in 2016.
“This is an exciting day for me. It’s an exciting day for this community, and it is particularly exciting for what we’re going to be doing in Loxahatchee Groves,’’ said Dr. Dennis Gallon, president of Palm Beach State College.
Dave Browning, mayor of Loxahatchee Groves, said he is looking forward to the campus opening in the town, which incorporated in 2007 and has about 3,000 residents. He also said he is pleased that the College is maintaining the site’s rural and natural beauty. “Welcome home,’’ he said.
Palm Beach State sought Florida Board of Education approval to build a fifth campus after a 2005 study concluded that, based on the county’s projected population growth over the next 25 to 30 years, one would be needed. The Board of Education approved Palm Beach State’s request to build a campus in 2006. After considering several sites, the College finalized the purchase of the Loxahatchee Groves land in October 2012.
Legislative funding budgeted for the project was vetoed three times before Gov. Rick Scott approved $6 million this year toward construction of the first building. Scott was not at the event, but sent a congratulatory note that Gallon read during the ceremony. The first building, a three-story, 50,000 square-foot multi-purpose classroom facility, will include classrooms and computer labs, administrative offices, a 250-seat multi-purpose lecture hall and ancillary support spaces. It will contain 468 student stations. This phase, which includes the building, site design, paving, draining, utility infrastructure and the furniture, fixtures and equipment, is expected to cost $25 million. The College plans to add two additional buildings within five to seven years depending on enrollment and the availability of construction funding. The next two buildings will include labs, a library/study space, a cafeteria and study center.
“This has been a labor of love,’’ said Wendy Link, vice chairperson of the PBSC District Board of Trustees, in describing the College’s efforts to obtain legislative support and funding for the campus. “It’s really going to be an important development for the history of the College.”
State Rep. Lori Berman, D- Boynton Beach, who is incoming chair of the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation, promised to work to secure additional funding for the campus. “This is a beautiful campus. It is going to be an exciting addition to the community.”
“This is an example of what we can do as an elected official,’’ said State Rep. Mark Pafford, D- West Palm Beach.