NEW: Palm Beach State selects Loxahatchee Groves for dental building


In the battle of the campuses, Loxahatchee Groves is the winner.

The Palm Beach State College board of trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to build the college’s new dental and medical services building at the western communities campus. Palm Beach State also will move its dental health education programs to Loxahatchee Groves.

“We’re excited about adding the dental building to the Loxahatchee Groves campus,’’ trustee Wendy Link said in a news release. “It is in one of the fastest growing areas of the county, and this facility will complement the planned health sciences and technology focus of the campus.”

RELATED: Lake Worth or Loxahatchee Groves: Who will win new Palm Beach State dental campus?

Florida lawmakers have pledged $5 million toward the total $22 million needed to building the new facility. In its news release, the college said it will be able to start planning the campus with the state money, but that “college leaders will pursue additional funds next year.”

Palm Beach State’s main campus in Lake Worth also was in the running for the dental and medical services building — the college’s dental health program currently is in a 55-year-old structure there — but decided on Loxahatchee Groves “after analyzing the two sites and receiving input from faculty, staff, students and the community,” the news release said.

Loxahatchee Groves Mayor David Browning attended the board of trustees meeting Tuesday to speak in support of the move.

“I think it will be an excellent addition,” he said. Palm Beach State College has been a “great neighbor,” Browning added.

“Any of the young people, or any age, out in Belle Glade, the far western communities, now will have easier access to these programs,” he said.

Both the Wellington and Royal Palm Beach councils wrote letters to Palm Beach State supporting construction of the new building on the Loxahatchee Groves campus.

Royal Palm Beach Mayor Fred Pinto said Wednesday that the college’s decision was the fulfillment of promises made when Palm Beach State was planning its Loxahatchee Groves campus.

“Eighty percent of the growth happening in the next 10 years is going to happen out here in the west,” Pinto said, adding that the new building in Loxahatchee Groves will help develop the next generation of dental professionals while providing continuing education for those already working in the field.

“We’re very excited to have it there,” he said.

Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig was unable to sign her village’s letter of support — her company did the site engineering for the Loxahatchee Groves campus before it was built — but said she thinks it’s a “great choice.”

“It just kind of makes sense,” Gerwig said. “There’s wide open space there at that campus.” If you draw an X through Palm Beach County, she said the Loxahatchee Groves campus is “smack in the middle of everything.”

“It will be able to meet the needs of everyone,” Gerwig said, adding that when she was a girl, her mother took her to get a free dental cleaning at Palm Beach State’s free dental clinic in Lake Worth.

Medicine is a booming field in the western communities, with two major players in the industry — Cleveland Clinic and Joe DiMaggio’s Children’s Hospital — building multimillion-dollar facilities there over the next few years.

“The number one job in the western communities is in a hospital or doctor’s office,” Palm Beach State president Ava Parker said. “The interest from the dentists and the interest from the hospitals was great, and they pledged their support for the programs.”

Wellington orthodontist Dr. Randall Shults said he “wholeheartedly” supports the college’s decision.

“There is a shortage of dental assistants in the western communities, and we perceive this move as great for the programs,” Shults said.

This story will be updated.



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