20-Acre Site at Jaqueline Cochran Airport

THERMAL – Once again, the HN and Frances C. Berger Foundation of Palm Desert has helped out the Coachella Valley by donating 20 acres of land to the County of Riverside for construction of a new sheriff’s station in the Eastern Coachella Valley. The parcel, which is located next to Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal, will also house some aviation-related facilities.

“This is an incredibly generous donation,” said Fourth District Supervisor Roy Wilson, in whose district the new sheriff’s facility will reside. “That is a very valuable 20 acres in just the right spot to do the public the most amount of good.”

The facility that the County envisions includes a 48,000 square foot Sheriff’s Station, a 30,000 square foot evidence processing and storage building, secured and public parking, a Sheriff’s Aviation Facility complete with a 12,000 square foot hangar and access to the airport’s runway, and a 20,000 square foot Aviation Education Center. The latter facility, which is in the preliminary design phase, would have a pair of 12,000 square foot hangars as well.

The land donation by the Berger Foundation brings to a successful conclusion the County’s search for suitable property in the East Valley for this much-needed facility. The Indio substation, which currently serves the communities of the eastern Coachella Valley, is too small for the burgeoning population, too far from the area to be served, and lacks the aviation component. The Indio Station also does not have sufficient space to properly store evidence.

The Sheriff’s Aviation Facility will house the Sheriff’s new Desert Aviation Unit, which has already been approved by the Board of Supervisors and is currently in the process of acquiring a helicopter to serve the Coachella Valley. Presently, the entire County is served by two helicopters based at Hemet-Ryan Airport, some 50 air miles from Valley.

“We’ve been searching for the ideal location for this station, and I think we’ve found it,” said Supervisor Wilson. “We hope that the Education center will house groups like the Palm Springs Air Museum’s Education Program, the Sheriff’s Explorers, the Boys and Girls Clubs Aviation Program, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Civil Air Patrol, and the like.”

Groundbreaking for the new Thermal Sheriff’s Station project is expected to take place by the summer of 2006.