Date: December 13, 2007
Byline: Joe Barron
Black Horse Inn receives $500,000 from state
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania contributed another $500,000 to the restoration of the Black Horse Inn this week, the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners announced Wednesday.
The money, which requires dollar-for-dollar matching funds from other sources, will be used for the renovation of the interior building, commissioners said.
The announcement of the grant, read by Commissioner Alison Peirce, took the crowd in the commissioners' meeting room by surprise, drawing a round a round of joyful applause.
News of the grant also surprised the commissioners, who learned of it only Wednesday evening after a meeting between township staff and representatives of the state budget office, Township Manager Don Berger said.
The funds will come from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, which granted the township $500,000 for renovation of the Black Horse in 2005.
The township initially applied for a $1 million grant, Berger said, but because of the large number of applications, the state cut the amount in half.
Since then, Berger said, many of the recipients of capital grants have failed to meet their financial obligations, and the state reallocated the program funds, which had already been secured through a bond issue, to projects deemed more assured of success.
"They're pleased with what the township has been able to do," Berger said of the state officials.
The cost of renovating the interior of the inn is estimated at $1.5 million, and the state grant has reduced the fundraising goal for the interior restoration to $1 million, Commissioner Robert Gillies said.
To help reach the goal, the township is considering retaining a professional fundraiser, Commissioner Kathleen Lunn said.
Gillies urged residents to support the effort privately, to help the township avoid using further tax money for the renovation.
The crowd in the commissioners' meeting room was larger than usual Wednesday, as constituents and supporters turned out to say farewell of Lunn, who will step down from the board at the end of this month.
Don Mitchell, head of the Friends of Historic Bethlehem Pike, the group spearheading the restoration of the Black Horse, presented Lunn with a print of the inn, which is located on Bethlehem Pike in Flourtown.
Lunn also received compliments from Brennan Preine, a constituent from the Springfield panhandle, and from Leslie Purple, who represented a group known as Women for a Change.
Preine, the founder of the Friends of the Springfield Panhandle, worked closely with Lunn during the group's negotiations with the developer of the Tecce tract on Ridge Pike, and he thanked her for her efforts to preserve open space and for working in the best interests of the township.
Peirce, who has cast dissenting votes with Lunn on many issues, lauded her for what she called a vision "grounded in the future not mired in the mythic past."
Lunn appeared to blink back tears in the face of all the attention, and she said she would continue to be active as a citizen volunteer.
"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues on the board," she said, "and to say to Springfield Township residents. It's been an honor to serve you."