Lazaretto Lazaretto
Source: Delaware County Daily Times
Date: November 9, 2006
Byline: Marlene DiGiacomo

Lazaretto property has been preserved

MEDIA COURTHOUSE — As a result of an out-of-court settlement reached Wednesday, the 200-year-old Lazaretto property will be preserved. And on the site Tinicum Township will raise a new combined firehouse complex.

Civil litigation filed by the Preservation Alliance of Philadelphia to halt the $7 million firehouse construction in the township on the historic Lazaretto site ended amicably, according to Delaware County Judge Edward Zetusky.

The agreement, ironed out in principle Wednesday, allows the township not to miss a day of construction on its firehouse project. Both sides also agreed to set up a non-profit corporation for charitable and educational purposes to qualify as a tax-exempt entity. That board will be geared to seek funding for the operation and management of the historic area of the property which is closest to the Delaware River.

The corporation is to consist of a nine-member board of directors including three members chosen by the township, three from the historical groups and three by mutual agreement. If they cannot agree on the final three then just one may be chosen, so that the board will have an uneven number of seven or nine members.

Zetusky said the formal wording of the agreement has yet to be ironed out by the attorneys — Francis G.X. Pileggi and Samuel Auslander for the township and Andrew Kenis, Jenna Evans and Gina Sullivan for the historic groups.

The judge said if a problem arises then he would be available to handle any dispute. He met privately with the attorneys Wednesday and then emerged to announce that a settlement had been reached.

Under the terms, the selected board members would be responsible for the management and operation of approximately five acres, closest to the Delaware River, where the historic building once dubbed ''The Pennsylvania Ellis Island" is located.

The nearby Marina and seaplane base will remain under township control.

The firehouse project and the historic site area will be separated by a "buffer zone" that will be taken from a portion of the parking lot property.

The historic Lazaretto was opened in 1800 in the Essington section of Tinicum, drawing its name from the biblical Lazarus, who was raised from the dead. It was operated as a hospital and once provided health and immunization screening to large numbers of immigrants through 1893.

Groundbreaking on the township's state-of-the-art firehouse project that is being built on five acres at the front of the property was begun Sept. 11. The suit seeking an injunction to stop it, was filed a month later.

Zetusky hailed both sides for formulating an agreement to settle the court dispute amicably. "Both the attorneys and the litigants did an excellent job in a short period of time," said Zetusky. "They should be commended."