The New York Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to deny landmark status to the building at 45-47 Park Place located two blocks from ground zero, paving the way for the construction of a mosque and community center that has been the center of heated debate due to its proximity to the site of the 9/11 attacks.
All nine commissioners weighed in on the historical and artistic significance of the building and agreed that the building did not meet the requirements for a landmark designation. (A move that would have raised hurdles for the Community Center’s progress.)
Issac Luria, communications director for J Street, an organization that advocates and lobbies for “pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,” was there to submit over 10,000 signatures collected in support of the mosque.
“This is a critical moment for the American-Jewish community. Will we line up with religious freedom, or will we side with bigotry and Islamophobia? The Muslim community here in New York has rights just as much as everyone else does.”
Park51, the name chosen for the community center, intends to be open to all New Yorkers and visitors and offer a fitness facilities with swimming pool, gym and basketball court; a 500-seat auditorium; a restaurant and culinary school; art exhibition space; education programs; library and art studios; childcare services; meditation rooms, and a mosque, to be run separately from Park51 but open to and accessible to all.
(READ the full story at The Epoch Times and see photo of current building)