Mosque Near Ground Zero Passes Another Hurdle
Community Board One voted last night 24 to 11 (with two abstentions) not to push for landmark status of 45-47 Park Place. That location is set to be the home of the formerly named Cordoba House, the $100 million mosque and interfaith cultural center just a couple blocks from where the World Trade Center was. The vote helps the project to move forward.
CB 1's meeting took place in Dance New Amsterdam's theater, not at all far from Ground Zero itself. Surprisingly, though volatile, this gathering was still much less heated than the last meeting to discuss this issue, the Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting at Hunter College two weeks ago.
There were no metal detectors here, and only a couple of cops. (The LPC meeting, which drew people who were unusually passionate about preserving mid-19th century cast-iron facades and the architecture of Daniel Badger, had a coupe dozen cops who looked nervous and trigger-happy.)
Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs, dressed in a Sarah-Palin-esque red jacket, did her usual dance, and hawked her new book over her head while giving her testimony. She had to be gaveled to order by the chairwoman several times, who threatened to toss her out for interrupting others. For the most part, the boos against the mosque were far louder than the polite applause given to its few defenders.
The project's developer, Sharif El-Gamal, declined to speak to the Voice, saying he's not giving any interviews.
Theoretically, the mosque was only one issue before the board, and several elected officials sent representatives to address the meeting in general. Apart from State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's rep, who did not have anything to say about the mosque, every spokesperson did not bring it up until pressed, at which time they offered tepid support. State Senator Daniel Squadron came in person, and did offer his support for Americans to express any thought or religion anywhere, especially in New York -- but again, he didn't do so until pressed, seeming to inexplicably hope no one would ask him about it.
Coming and going from the meeting, flyers were handed out calling for a halt to a proposed mosque in Sheepshead Bay (attached to this Andrea Peyser column), and celebrating the end of a mosque project on Staten Island.
Another issue brought up that 90 percent of the audience didn't seem to care about was a proposal to start a coalition for building a new hospital in Lower Manhattan. Lawyer Yetta Kurland, who challenged Christine Quinn for her City Council seat last year, was one of a handful of speakers seeking CB 1's support on this issue.