Public invited to the Emerald Necklace Premiere Party 

The Redlands Conservancy invites the public to meet the proposed Emerald Necklace Program at the Emerald Necklace Premiere Party on March 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the historic Mitten Building, 345 N. Fifth Street in Redlands.

The 1987 “Emerald Necklace Report” defined it, the 1994 City General Plan codified it, and now, the proposed Emerald Necklace Program can make it happen: the realization of a system for preserving Redlands’ unique and defining environment.

Free of charge, the party will celebrate the many gems in the “emerald necklace” that surrounds Redlands.  It will include a silent auction, opportunity drawings, heavy hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and a no-host bar.  Also, it will feature exhibits and displays of all the individual projects and programs that will benefit from the Emerald Necklace Program

“The Emerald Necklace Program will incorporate many existing projects,” explained Sherli Leonard, Project Manager for the Redlands Conservancy, “including the Inland Orange Conservancy, the development of playing fields on the north side of town, the Redlands Rail Trail Project, the Heritage Park near the Asistencia, and the Santa Ana River Trail, among many others.  All of these projects will have displays at the party.”

The proposed ENP, when fully articulated, will become the instrument which incorporates the City-approved work of the University of Redlands’ Center for Environmental Studies.  At the party, the CES team and the UR student interns will present their projections for the Emerald Necklace Program, showing maps, images, and a brief power point presentation.  The team and their students, whose work will include the development of a much-needed database for the City staff, will be present to discuss the program.

The event’s purpose is two-fold, explained event coordinator Linda Oster.  “First, it’s time for the public to know all about the Emerald Necklace Program.  Second, it’s time to ask the public to help fund a program that will benefit everyone, even those who don’t use the parks, groves, and natural open areas, because preserving Redlands’ unique environment preserves our high property values.”

“It also invites the cultural tourist,” added Leonard. “That tourist spends good money, then goes home, requiring almost no additional infrastructure.  Tourists would have a tremendous positive impact on the economy of the city.”

“No other city in the inland area has the opportunity Redlands has,” said Brian Roche, long-time Redlands resident working on the Premiere Party.  “With one program, we can accomplish several things: we can distinguish Redlands from surrounding sprawl, protect our high property values, mitigate the negative impacts of increased traffic congestion, develop open areas for parks and recreation, maintain an ample supply of high quality water, and preserve the amazingly beautiful hills and canyons that no other community can claim.”

The party’s fund-raising will be the community’s investment in a long-term process, Oster explained.  “It’s kind of a reverse process: in order to pay for the ENP, we plan to ask the community to support a voter initiative for a transaction tax; in order to pay for the initiative campaign, we need a lot of money from supporting organizations; in order to ask for that money, we need to conduct an expensive professional polling process.  That’s what we’re raising money for with this event.”

According to Leonard, the polling process not only will support the initiative campaign, it will provide essential information about what the community really wants regarding preserving community parks, citrus groves, and natural open areas.  Leonard said the information from the poll will determine the components of the initiative. 

The Emerald Necklace Program has evolved over the past two years, and has received support from the National Park Service, the Trust for Public Land, the Crafton Hills Open Space Conservancy, the Wildlands Conservancy, the Friends of Crafton Hills, the Heritage Park Committee, the San Timoteo Canyonlands Coalition, the San Timoteo Greenway Conservancy, the City of Redlands Parks Commission, and the City of Redlands Recreation Commission. 

To reserve a space at the Emerald Necklace Premiere Party, call (909) 798-3060.  For more information about the Party or the Emerald Necklace Program, visit www.redlandsconservancy.org or call (909) 389-7810.