Date: October 13, 2005
Byline: Joe Barron
Senator aims to get $1.2M for inn
State Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-7, visited Springfield Township Wednesday morning for a close-up look at the Black Horse Inn.
Touring the site with a group of township officials and volunteers, Hughes said he hoped to convince Gov. Edward G. Rendell to release $1.2 million in state capital funds for the restoration of the inn.
The grant, which if received would require the township to match a portion of the total, appears in a line item in the state's 2004 capital budget, but Rendell must approve the project before the funds become available.
Last year, Rendell denied a $1.5 million capital grant for the inn proposed by state Rep. Larry Curry, D-154. Hughes said he would communicate with the governor Wednesday in the hope of convincing him to change his mind.
Rendell's primary consideration in approving capital grants is economic development and the generation of employment, and the Black Horse is the linchpin of the revitalization of Bethlehem Pike, Hughes said.
Township Commissioner Robert Gillies and Township Manager Don Berger reviewed for Hughes the history of efforts to save the inn and develop the land around it. Gillies concentrated on the relations between the township and the successive owners of the property, while Berger emphasized the role of volunteers in the inn's restoration.
"The energy actually came from the community," Berger told Hughes. "It's important for you to know this isn't just a government thing. It's a community thing."
The senator, who was seeing the inside of the inn for the first time, inquired about plans for the use of the inn, and the volunteers' relationship with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which is providing advice on the historical accuracy of the restoration.
The 2006 federal budget includes a $150,000 grant for the inn proposed by U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-13. To qualify for the grant, however, builders must adhere to standards for design and materials set forth by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, township Commissioner Kathleen Lunn said.
The state historical commission is helping to ensure the standards are met, Lunn said.
Hughes pronounced himself impressed with what he had seen inside the building, even in its current, dilapidated condition. While he had nothing against the box stores on the pike, he said, the Black Horse presents a piece of history extending back beyond the American Revolution.