REAL ISSUES

Ground Zero Mosque Developers Apply For $5M Federal Grant

Park51 Developers Apply For $5M Federal Grant, Outraging Opponents of Mosque Near Ground Zero

Ground Zero Mosque

51 Park Place; future site of Ground Zero Mosque

A majority of New Yorkers remain opposed to a mosque proposed as part of a planned Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. The developer is now applying for federal taxpayer money to help build the controversial project.

Park51, the organization behind the project to build the multicultural center and mosque, has applied for a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation grant. Funds from grant are designated to help lower Manhattan recover from the 9-11 terrorist attacks, which took place just around the corner from the proposed mosque and cultural center location.

Sharif El-Gamal, the head of SOHO Properties, says the money will be used for a variety of services for Park51. In a statement, El-Gamal said he is, “…committed to exploring all sources of revenue and funding to build the community center,” noting that the request for a reported $5 million would help provide the community with much needed social services. El-Gamal did not specify exactly how much of the taxpayer funding would be allocated to build the community center.

Park51 states that the grant would in part fund social service programs for all the residents of Lower Manhattan such as domestic violence prevention, Arabic and other foreign language classes, programs and services for homeless veterans, two multi-cultural art exhibits, and immigration services. Proponents of building the mosque note that the community center will provide hundreds of construction jobs over the next few years and when opened will provide 150 permanent jobs. In addition, this community center, which will include a gym, a pool, a day care center, a pre-K, a culinary institute, tech classes, an amphitheater, and a 9/11 Memorial, is desperately needed in Lower Manhattan.

Lower Manhattan Development Corp. officials said they could not comment on individual grant applications but are looking to fund projects that would be an economic boon to the downtown area. Spokesman John De Libero said LMDC, which has allocated $17 million for community and cultural enhancement programs, has received more than 265 applications from nonprofits seeking more than $175 million.

Diane Horning, 63, founder of the WTC Families for a Proper Burial, scoffed at the developer’s application and questioned the LMDC’s use of federal money.

“All I know is that we asked for assistance from the LMDC to give our dead decent and proper burials and were rejected,” said Horning, referring to a proposal to re-comb the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island for remains of 911 victims.

“It’s absolutely disgraceful,” says Congressman Peter King (R-NY) who is likely to be the new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, “…there are so many worthwhile projects in lower Manhattan.” King also notes that the reported $5 million request represents nearly one-third of the allocated funding.

“It’s the height of arrogance, that is really desecrating the memory of the lives that were lost that day,” says construction worker Andy Sullivan, who is behind the group 9-11 Hard Hats.com which opposes the project. He says 45,000 people have logged onto the website to support his effort. “He’s going to take the money that I work for? That gets taken out of my paycheck, to fund something that I am completely and absolutely against? Not on my watch.”

Short URL: http://realissues.us/?p=1159

Posted by on Nov 23 2010. Filed under Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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