10:00 PM PDT on Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Press-Enterprise

The University of Redlands will contribute $112,000 this year to help the city with some projects dear to the university’s heart that Redlands otherwise might not be able to afford.

The university’s donation list is specific — $10,000 each for an intern program that will allow 10 students to work in city offices, for acquistions at the A.K. Smiley Library and for maintenance and improvements at Sylvan Park, across the street from the campus.

The university will give $30,000 to help pay for a new ladder truck. Redlands firefighters are conducting a fundraising drive because the city can’t afford the $160,000 match required to purchase the truck.

And the university proposes to hire a contractor to repave Colton Avenue where it runs through the campus, likely to cost some $52,000.

“These things are important to us,” said Phillip L. Doolittle, the university’s executive vice president.

The street and park are essentially the university’s front door and it’s important that they look good, he said.

While university officials see the Colton Avenue pavement as deteriorating, repairs are low on the city’s priority list because so many other streets in town are so much worse.

“We don’t want it to degenerate and become a problem,” Doolittle said. “If we let it go bad it might (cost) two or three times as much.”

As for the park, university workers help out by maintaining the extensive rose garden, he said.

Last year, the university gave $30,000 for park upkeep, he said. While that contribution is smaller this year, the overall amount is larger because of the street project.

“Our interest is in maintaining that park and helping the city during difficult times,” Doolittle said.

The university has been making donations to the city since sometime in the mid-1990s, Doolittle said. He could not recall precisely when, but the amount contributed so far is more than $710,000, he wrote in a letter to the city.

“We very much appreciate the support of the University of Redlands , especially with the kind of budget constraints we’ve been facing over the last several years,” city spokesman Carl Baker said. “The university hasn’t been immune to the impacts of the recession, either.”

The city has cut some $13 million from its general fund budget over two years and laid off more than 60 employees. The university faced some $7 million in budget cuts last year as well as faculty layoffs.

Doolittle said he didn’t know of any other West Coast universities that make such contributions to their hometowns.

“This program is patterned after what some East Coast schools have been doing,” he said.

The partnership is multi-faceted.

For years, the university’s public safety director was a lieutenant in the Redlands Police Department.

University students perform their required community service work throughout the city, volunteering in schools, parks and the city animal shelter.

A.K. Smiley Library archivist Nathan Gonzales, a city employee, works one day a week as the university’s archivist, Doolittle said.

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