Despite their efforts to educate Lower Manhattan dwellers about their plans for the Islamic community center and mosque that will be situated just two blocks from Ground Zero, Park51 developers applied for nearly $5 million in federal grants, according toÂ The Daily Beast. The government set aside $20 billion in funds under a “community and cultural enhancement grant” program overseen by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation with the specific purpose of redeveloping lower Manhattan after the Twin Towers collapsed nearly a decade ago. Given the divided nature of New Yorkers regarding Park51, the fact that the developers filed for funding that they may or not need is expected to incite the ire of on-the-fence locals.
While the LMDC board and Park 51 officials refused to comment on the application due to confidentiality issues, Park 51, which is aiming to provide a community center for Lower Manhattan’s Muslims population, are well within their rights to apply for the grant, as the application stats that religious groups are permitted to make requests as long as they submit “for a facility or portion of a facility that is dedicated to non-religious activities or uses.” A source familiar with the application claims that Park 51 omitted the prayer room from their request.
Park51 maintains that its overarching goal is the “change the conversation about Muslims in America,” but sources speculate that while most Lower Manhattanites are okay with the community center being located in their backyard and a community board approved Park51 in two separate votes,Â Â the request for public funds to develop a private property could anger residents.Â Â Other sources indicate that Park51 doesn’t meet the funding requirements.
What do you think of Park51 requesting federal funding?