Lazaretto Lazaretto
Source: Delco Times
Date: October 27, 2006
Byline: Cindy Scharr

Firehouse plans for Lazaretto property spark ire

MEDIA COURTHOUSE — Attorneys for two historic preservation groups have filed a request for an injunction against Tinicum Township and the continued construction of a new firehouse complex at the historic Lazaretto property.

County Judge Kathrynann W. Durham listened Thursday as Elizabeth Campbell, an attorney representing the Preservation Pennsylvania and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, explained why she was seeking the injunction to halt construction at the historic property.

Citing critics of the plan, which include the Delaware County Planning Commission, Campbell said the proposed firehouse would take up much of the Lazaretto land, disturb its visual presence and could interfere with archaeological finds.

The township purchased the Lazaretto, a 207-year-old former quarantine station for Philadelphia-bound immigrants, for $3.1 million in 2005. Seven years earlier, township voters approved a referendum to consolidate the Lester and Essington companies and build a new firehouse on the Lazaretto property.

A large burial ground near the hospital was the final resting place for passengers who died in transit, quarantine or from contagious diseases. Township solicitor Samuel Auslander said that area has been cordoned off and has not been disturbed.

He also noted that the $7 to $8 million project has already begun and that a good deal of work had been done on the former hospital to make sure it did not fall into further disrepair.

Auslander told Durham that it was difficult to defend the case as he had just received the document at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. He told Durham that if she granted a continuance, work at the site would not be accelerated before another hearing was held.

Durham told the plaintiffs it would be to their benefit to have expert witnesses available for the hearing, which was rescheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday before Judge Edward Zetusky.