The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents Tim Brown, a New York City firefighter who was a first responder to the September 11th attacks and ultimately survived the collapse of the Twin Towers, recently filed a lawsuit to stop the erection of the Ground Zero Mosque. As of Wednesday, the ACLJ requested that the court enjoin the mosque’s developers from performing any demolition or construction at the site.
The situation is a bit sticky, as the ACLJ claims that Mayor Bloombergâ€™s office is getting in the way of justice, in terms of reluctance to issue documents, and released a statement on the matter. “There is a disturbing pattern of stonewalling by the City and Mayor’s Office in providing information about what’s clearly been a politically tainted process from day one,” said Brett Joshpe, ACLJ Counsel. Â “The limited release of documents by the Mayor’s Office underscores our concerns. Â With developers moving forward with their plans and the continued lack of response by the City, we’re seeking an injunction from the court to halt the destruction of any of the buildings at issue in the case.”
The ACLJ’s lawsuit names New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), the New York City Department of Buildings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the mosque’s developers. Â The suit also cites two complaints to the Department of Buildings noting unauthorized work without proper permits at the mosque site and the developers’ application for $5 million in public funding through the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation as an indication that project is moving forward.
The ACLJ’s lawsuit alleges that the LPC abused its discretion and acted arbitrarily in its deliberations last summer about whether to landmark a building that was damaged on September 11th and which would need to be demolished to develop the Ground Zero Mosque.
UPDATED:Developers of the Ground Zero mosque have recieved a green light from today’s Landmark status vote on 45-51 Park Place, the slated address of the Park51 mosque.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 9-0 against granting landmark status to the former Burlington Coat Factory building, clearing the way for the Cordoba Initiative to develop their Park51 mosque.
The vote was seen as the biggest hurdle for the Cordoba initiative’s plans on building a Muslim community center 600 feet from the World Trade Center site.
However, according to the New York Post, should the vote clear the way for the dubbed “Ground Zero Mosque,” a lawsuit is set to be filed immediately against the landmark vote on behalf of 9/11 first responders.
“We believe the Landmarks Preservation Commission would have allowed politics and mayor’s fervent support for the project to replace the deliberative process,” said Jack Lester, an attorney for 9/11 responder Tim Brown according to the same article.
The next step for the developers would be to solidify the $100 million dollar price tag for construction costs. Imam Feisal Abdul Raif, one of the developers of the mosque is said to solicit funding from the Muslim communities, foundations as well as Muslim nations for funding.
How do you feel about granting the site landmark status? Should this stop the building of the mosque?
In a swift marketing move, the Cordoba Initiative Mosque has a new name — Park51.
The name changed is seen as an effort to quell the controversy from the development of the mosque and Muslim community center by giving it an almost innocuous, generic name, sounding more like a new condominium construction than a mosque.
According to a report in the New York Daily News, “Spokesman Oz Sultan said the new name puts emphasis on the community center aspect of the project rather than religion.”
The address of the planned center is slated to take the entire block region 41-51 Park Place, which one could assume inspired the World Trade Center mosques new name.
It’s a sharp move considering that the part of the block that has been in contention is the portion of 45-47 Park Place. This may be a preemptive branding move and a statement by developers to say that regardless of the ruling, the community center will at the very least reside at 51 Park Place.
The Commission will determine the Landmark fate of 45-47 later in the summer. A ruling which is seen to determine the development of the mosque in our neighborhood.
As the rain poured outside, people poured inside the New York City Landmarks Commission public hearing. Despite the inclement weather nearly 100 people were in attendance at the hearing in Hunter College. A dozen or so individuals were able to take the floor including public opponent and New York State Governor hopeful Rick Lazio — who offered a different strategy to halt the Mosque’s construction by claiming the building at Park Place was worthy of landmark recognition. Even citing debris that had fallen on the building during the 9/11 attacks.
“I urge the commission to grant landmark status to 45 Park Place, [to] take into account important historical facts.”
Gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino was also represented by his lieuenant governor Tom Ognibene who agreed with Lazio stating the building of the mosque would beÂ “an affront to the families that have died.”
Linda Rivera, a family member of a 9/11 victim suggested, “the building should be a landmark building. It should not be a mosque.”
Brooklyn resident, Barbara Sommer decried the sentiments and questioned “How can we allow something to eradicate that memory — the pain and suffering.”
While nearly a dozen others voiced their opinions at the hearing, a religious turf war had been established when Bill Keller of LivePrayer.comÂ (of no relation to the New York Times editor) had sent out a press release stating he would bid on creating a Christian center within the heart of Ground Zero. As of yesterday, his site had been actively seeking donations to fund the construction and is slated to start a satellite prayer center at the Embassy Suites hotel in the northern section of our neighborhood every Sunday starting September 5th until December 26th — until a final home has been found for the Christian center. (I wonder if the group knows that Goldman Sachs is planning on closing the hotel down soon?)
It seems our neighborhood has become a religious battle ground overnight. Are we OK with this?
Protests were inevitable, once plans for The Cordoba House Initiative were made public. The building of a mosque near the World Trade Center site was bound to cause public outcry and controversy.
That being said, who could have predicted that more than 73% of all Staten Islanders would be opposed?! Better yet, more than half of all New York voters polled in a recent Quinnipiac University poll were found to be opposed to the building of the Cordoba House in Lower Manhattan.
The Cordoba House Initiative includes plans to build a 13-floor Muslim institute which will include a mosque and community center only 600 feet from Ground Zero.
Politicians better listen up to these findings considering that the anniversary of September 11th will always precede Election Day. It would be smart to heed the concerns of over half of New York City voters.
Currently, the only thing standing in the way of the greenlight for the Cordoba house is passing approval from The Landmarks Preservation Commission who are scheduled to vote on the project later this month.
According to other information gleaned from this poll:
-55% of New Yorkers polled said “mainstream Islam” is a “peaceful religion” compared to 22% who found that Islamic beliefs “encourage violence against non-muslims.”
-73% of Staten Islanders polled opposed the building, versus 14% in support of the Mosque.
-46% of Manhattan voters were in support of the bulding, versus the 36% opposed.
-1,183 registered voters were polled between June 21 to June 28
-The margin of error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
How do you feel about the Cordoba House initiative?