Temecula officials agreed today to give up plans to lure a university to Temecula in favor of backing a site in Murrieta.
Officials from Temecula and Murrieta met at today to discuss how they can work together to bring a university to the area.
Officials are working on annexing a 200-acre lot on Los Alamos and Briggs roads in Winchester owned by Anheuser-Busch, said Murrieta Councilmember Rick Gibbs.
The lot was perfect, since the campus would need a minimum of 200 acres, he said. “If we don’t get 200 acres, it’s not worth doing.”
Temecula made plans in 2005 with a developer, AGK Group, to build a four-story multi-use educational complex on Diaz Road north of Winchester Road, but after the city spent millions grading and improving the land, the developer reneged.
The city later made plans with a hospital management company to build a medical complex on the land. More than 5 years later, they are still in the planning stage.
The failed medical center plan had a positive side-effect for the city: it lead to the opening of Mt. San Jacinto College and California State University, San Marcos satellite campuses at other sites. Mt. San Jacinto and Concordia occupy buildings in the city’s industrial west side and the Cal State shares a campus with a continuation school on Margarita Road.
The population of Temecula and Murrieta will support an entire campus, said Murrieta City Manager Rick Dudley.
“This is the largest populated area in the state without a CSU campus,” he said. “We need more than part of a high school campus.”
Officials decided to draft an agreement to show to Cal State representatives to show they agree a location in either city will be equally good.
“I have absolutely no ego about where it goes,” Temecula Councilmember Mike Naggar said at the meeting.
“You need to do it. Get it,” Naggar said to the Murrieta officials. “If you had the 200 acres today, then our goal today would be to raise the money.”
Figuring out how to pay for the campus will be the next challenge, officials agreed.
“The tough part is, where do we get the money from?” Gibbs asked. “Without $1 million from donors, how are we going to get a university built?”
In the state of the economy, they may need to rely on private funding – for profit or for charity. “There’s no money to build these colleges. It’s going to have to be privately funded,” Naggar said.
Building a college in the area will likely help the economy by educating the workforce, Gibbs said.
When Murrieta tried to attract a medical manufacturing facility, they passed the city over, he recalled. “They’re telling us, we don’t have an educated workforce in bio-engineering,” Gibbs said.
Many local students get good educations, but they leave the area and never return, Murrieta Councilmember Kelly Bennett said.
“We’ll never get our kids back if we keep shipping them out to four-year school,” she said. “They’ll never come back to practice their skills.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of the article stated Anheuser-Busch donated the 200-acre lot to the county. The beer company is negotiating the deal with the county, but they still own the land.