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Source: Press Release
Date: July 8, 2005
Byline: Press Release

Agreement signed between Springfield Township and Friends of Historic Bethlehem Pike

pr0705From left to right, Ed Zwicker, Donald Mitchell, James Mascaro, Don Berger & Glenn Schaum.

On a recent sunny afternoon, five men gathered behind the Black Horse Inn along Bethlehem Pike in Flourtown to shake hands and admire the recent work that's been done on the building. Among them was the president of the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners, Glenn Schaum, Township Manager, Don Berger, the president of the Springfield Township Historical Society, Ed Zwicker, the president of the Friends of Historic Bethlehem Pike, Donald Mitchell, and the chair of the township-appointed Black Horse Inn Advisory Committee, James Mascaro. The occasion was to mark the signing of a partnership agreement between the various groups that will bring the long-neglected Black Horse Inn back to life over the next three years.

After months of planning and negotiation, Township Manager, Don Berger explained that "the agreement creates a firm understanding for everyone involved." Springfield Township Board of Commissioners president, Glenn Schaum agrees. "It not only strengthens the bond between these organizations, but shows there is a synergy in accomplishing this common goal of restoring the Black Horse Inn."

Officially the agreement exists between Springfield Township and the local citizen-based group, Friends of Historic Bethlehem Pike, but also named in the document are the Springfield Township Historical Society (STHS) and the township-appointed Black Horse Inn Advisory Committee (BHIAC) as additional partners in the restoration effort.

The newly formed Friends of Historic Bethlehem Pike became galvanized around the Black Horse Inn issue during the controversial development of property surrounding the inn, which now houses a Walgreen's drug store and a super-sized liquor store. In recent months the Friends have formed officially as a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation and now view the Black Horse Inn restoration project as just the beginning of citizen involvement along the Bethlehem Pike corridor. "We're not here to oppose all development on the pike," says Friends president, Donald Mitchell. "To the contrary, we want to see the pike revitalized. Our goal is to assure that the residents have a voice in that process and that continuing development is friendly to the economy, the business community and the residents alike. We see this agreement and the restoration of the inn as a win for everyone."

Aside from its obvious interest in historic preservation, the Springfield Township Historical Society is using its tax-exempt status to bolster donations and work as the repository of all funds raised by the effort, with the exception of township contributions. In addition to carrying the lion's share of accounting responsibilities, the Society is also lending its name in the fundraising effort. "This really represents a collective effort by a diverse cross section of the township, all working toward an historically and economically viable community," says Historical Society president, Ed Zwicker. "I think what we all envision is a Black Horse Inn not only restored but revitalized."

In addition the Black Horse Inn Advisory Committee is playing a pivotal role in the coordinated effort. Operating as the right hand of the Commissioners, the committee is overseeing quality control of the restoration and making recommendations to the Board of Commissioners on a monthly basis. "We're following the scope of work according to the architect's specifications and proceeding with a very deliberate sequence of repairs," says BHIAC chairman, James Mascaro. "In July we will do the chimneys, after that the soffit and fascia work, after that the roofs, and so forth."

Schaum noted the township's long tradition of working through advisory committees. "Our whole point in creating the Black Horse Inn Advisory Committee was to get more people involved in the process," he said. "I think what we're seeing now is what we see throughout our community, and that is residents who care about something stepping forward and taking an active role in the process. It's one of the great things about Springfield Township." Township Manager, Berger, agrees. "We've laid some meaningful stepping stones recently and have a great variety of professionals volunteering with this effort; construction professionals, accounting professionals, individuals versed in historic preservation. Really all the bases are covered."

With a plan in place and the volunteer people power to follow it through, both the Friends and the Township now look to the community at large for help. A public appeal letter will be hitting mailboxes in the township soon with the stated goal of raising $150,000, or about ten percent of the overall restoration goal. "From the beginning the Friends have believed that there are many folks in the township that do care about the Black Horse Inn and do care about what happens to Bethlehem Pike," says Mitchell. "Everyone involved has done a lot of work to create a system for restoring the inn. Now it's up to the citizens of Springfield Township to support that effort by pulling out their checkbooks." Donations to the Black Horse Inn restoration effort can be made by contacting the Springfield Township Historical Society at 215-233-4600 or online at www.savetheblackhorse.org.

For more information contact:
Ellen Manning
Friends of Historic Bethlehem Pike