The palm trees are planted, the grass is growing, and a stage is set at Palm Springs’ newest park. One thing missing when it opens later this month, however, will be a name.
The city is planning an October 21 opening ceremony for the 1.5-acre park along North Museum Drive. For now, it is being called “Downtown Park.” But if Palm Springs Preservation Foundation (PSPF) efforts pay off, the park will be named after Nellie Coffman.
Coffman is considered the “mother” of Palm Springs and a driving force behind the original tourism industry in the city and its initial growth. The new park sits at the site of her Desert Inn, which began as a sanitorium in the early 1900s and later expanded to become a world-famous getaway for Hollywood celebrities. A Cathedral City middle school bearing her name opened in 1980.
If the park were to be named in Coffman’s honor, it would be the culmination of a campaign dating back more than four years. During that time, members of the PSPF produced a pamphlet, wrote letters, and held meetings with city officials past and present. They also commissioned a film about the naming and dedicated a portion of the organization’s website to the effort.
“The Desert Inn is the very reason Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley came into international consciousness over a century ago,” the film begins. “That fame persists today and is directly attributable to the tenacity and fortitude of Nellie Coffman.”
Gary Johns, president of PSPF, said Monday the organization’s efforts have so far paid off only in starting conversations about the naming. He remains hopeful the city will now move forward to honor Coffman as it has other female pioneers, such as Francis Stevens and Ruth Hardy, who both have city parks dedicated in their honor.
City Manager Justin Clifton said last week he plans to ask Palm Springs City Council members if they would like to have the issue on their agenda. That move would begin the official process of attaching a name to the park.
At a time when naming city facilities and erecting monuments to city leaders is under the microscope, it may be challenging to get anyone at City Hall to commit to naming the new park any time soon. But Johns remains hopeful his organization’s efforts will see results.
“We got really good, strong feedback from these meetings,” Johns said of conversations held with City Council members during the past four years. “We’ve kept up the advocacy.”
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MIDDLETON BIDS FOR SENATE: Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton announced Monday she is running for the state Senate, looking to fill a spot in the 28th District that will not have an incumbent in the race. The district currently includes parts of the Coachella Valley but could change after redistricting. Republican Melissa Melendez currently holds the seat but will not be eligible due to term limits. Her campaign website indicates she may run for Lieutenant Governor in 2022. “In the state Senate, I will work to return our state and country back to a place where a crisis — whether it be a pandemic, wildfire, or earthquake — is not an opportunity for partisanship but for us to work together to save lives,” Middleton said in a news release announcing her candidacy. “In our state, it is always going to be not if, but when and how bad is the next emergency.” For the complete story, turn here.
DRIVE-BY SHOOTING: Palm Springs police responded to the 3400 Block of North Sunrise Way for reports of a shooting at approximately 7 AM Monday. According to published reports, officers who arrived at the scene discovered a child reportedly grazed by a bullet fired from a passing vehicle. The child had been seated in a vehicle struck by the gunfire. He was treated at a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. Police are asking that anyone with information about the incident call 760-773-3333. The public can make anonymous tips by calling 760-341-7867.
COVID GRANTS: The Desert Business Association, the Coachella Valley’s LGBTQ Chamber, is partnering with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and Grubhub on the NGLCC/Grubhub Community Impact Grant Program. The program provides a financial lifeline to those impacted by COVID-19, with grants expected to range from $5,000 to $100,000. The assistance is available for LGBTQ+-owned and allied restaurants, cafes, bars serving food, and other eating establishments. Complete eligibility details and application information is available at nglcc.org/ghgrant.
NIGHT OUT: Neighbors throughout the city will be stepping out to shine a light on crime during National Night Out this evening. Among the events, Rimrock Neighborhood Organization Chair Carlene Hart is hosting a discussion with police, fire, and city staff at her home in the Safari Mobile Home Park from 4 PM until 6 PM. To RSVP, email her at email@example.com. All Palm Springs residents are asked to turn on their exterior lights between 5 PM and 10 PM.
SCHOOL COVID: As of this morning, the Palm Springs Unified School District is reporting 20 cases of COVID-19 among students and staff. Schools in Palm Springs account for two of those cases, both among students.
MIZELL EVENTS: Walking aerobics, a laughter clinic, Spanish lessons, and more are offered today at the Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way. For more information about today’s offerings, click here.
WATER MEETING: The Desert Water Agency (DW) Board of Directors meets at 8 AM. Information on viewing that meeting online, as well as an agenda, can be found here.
YOUTH CRAFTS: Palm Springs Public Library Children’s Librarian Nancy Valdivia demonstrates how to make a pumpkin handprint on the library’s YouTube channel at 10 AM. Those who wish to create a handprint can pick up materials at the library, 300 S. Sunrise Way, prior to the YouTube event.
SOLAR AND GREEN: The city Sustainability Commission’s Standing Subcommittee on Solar and Green Building meets at 10:30 AM via Zoom. Instructions for participating in the meeting, as well as a complete agenda, are available here.
SUSTAINABILITY: The city Sustainability Commission meets at 5 PM via Zoom. Instructions for participating in the meeting, as well as a complete agenda, are available here.
ONGOING / UPCOMING
SINATRA CELEBRATION: Palm Springs Point of View, a YouTube channel that covers “Eats, Art and Culture” in Palm Springs and elsewhere in the Coachella Valley, is holding three events in the upcoming months to celebrate the life of Frank Sinatra, including one next week. The first Martinis and Moxie is scheduled for the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Rd., at 6 PM on October 15. Tickets for that event are available here. Hosted by Claudia Ried and Conrad Angel Corral, with piano music by Alan Kraemer, the event will feature cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, Sinatra tunes, and a discussion about the entertainer’s life in the Coachella Valley. After the event, guests are invited to stay for a screening of one of Sinatra’s films.
VOTING UNDERWAY: Our partners at The Coachella Valley Independent have started the next step in the process of determining the best of the best in the Coachella Valley for 2021-2022. The top vote-getters in each category have been selected, and now you can vote for the winners. To vote for your favorite in any one of multiple categories, start here.
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