The Mad Rush to Build the Ground Zero Mega-Mosque

New York politicians are bending over backwards and violating protocol to build a mega mosque at Ground Zero. In warped speed they are ramming it through, removing every obstacle to expedite the process and erect a triumphal mosque at Ground Zero in time for it to meet its stated opening date, the tenth anniversary of September 11. Why? Would they do this for a church? A synagogue? This is an outrage.

Wednesday night, on less than a week and a half’s notice (at a time when most people who care are not even around), the Lower Manhattan Community Board 1 (LMCB) Landmark Commission (LMCBLC) held a meeting to consider the landmark status of 45-47 Park Place (the site of the proposed 911 mega-mosque). Refusing to wait until the entire board could meet, seven board members voted to deny landmark status to the Burlington Coat Factory building, removing another obstacle to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s supremacist, triumphal mosque.

Yet the historical significance of the property is clear: the famous architect Daniel D. Badger designed the building. A number of his buildings have already been given landmark status. The New York Times obituary (in the November 19, 1884 issue, p. 2) for Badger (1806-1884) called him “the pioneer of this country in the use of iron for building purposes.”

More importantly, his building has special historical significance because of 911. It was part of the attack. The landing gear of one the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center towers flew out to the Burlington Coat Factory building, and fell through the roof to the basement. The fact that the committee ignores that fact is outrageous, and disrespects the victims of 911.

The LMCBLC unanimously (with one recusal) voted Wednesday to recommend to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) that landmark status be denied. Yes, this ugly decision was unanimous. The one recusal came from a board member who admitted to being in bed with the owner (future financial gains implied). This was the same tool who during last month’s community board meeting was shilling for the mosque. Apparently, one of the owners of the property approached him and subsequently corresponded with him. He said he was recusing himself because although there was no “immediate” financial benefit to him, he thought it appropriate given potential conflicts of interest. The same member of the LMCBLC made reference to Kristallnacht, implying that opponents of the mosque are Nazis. Outrageous, I tell you.

The basis for the decision was that the LPC had not recommended landmark status for other architecturally and aesthetically significant buildings in the neighborhood — which is patently untrue. See below:

Park palce Broaday landmark

The first building is 45 Park Place, the Ground Zero mosque site. The second is 311 Broadway. Compare the two buildings. 311 Broadway was granted landmark status in January 2010 by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Bob Tierney, chairperson of the Commission, said in January 2010: “It’s one of the few remaining palazzo-style buildings on Broadway in Lower Manhattan.” Yet both buildings are Italian Renaissance, palazzo-style architecture in the same neighborhood. Why is one being granted landmark status and the other being denied that status? A rhetorical question, of course.

Next Tuesday, July 13, the Landmarks Commission, all Bloomberg appointees, is meeting to consider landmark status for 45 Park Place. They do Bloomberg’s bidding, and in the sleaziest of ploys, Bloomberg is ducking responsibility, refusing to meet with the 911 families or the Coalition for the Preservation of Ground Zero, and calendaring these key motions on a week’s notice in the middle of the summer with little to no due diligence.

It is obvious that the Landmarks Commission is going to deny landmark status at its meeting next Tuesday. Again, why the mad rush? So that the mosque can open on the tenth anniversary of September 11, as promised?

The landmarking of 311 Broadway and the landing gear of the plane that crashed into 45 Park Place on September 11 are concrete evidence that the board is deceiving the public. This building has special historical significance because of 911. It was part of the attack. The piece of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center towers and the Burlington Coat Factory building makes that buidling an important part of American history. The fact that the committee ignores that fact is outrageous, and disrespects the victims of 911.

Landign gear

Even worse, the LMCB actually favored landmark status decades ago, but now it is completely disregarding the increased historical and cultural significance of the property. The rush to deny this property landmark status so that a mosque can be constructed for the tenth anniversary of 9/11 — when the Freedom Tower that has been kicked around for nearly a decade as a political football will still not be finished — is disrespectful to the public at large, as well as to the 9/11 victims and their families. At the very least, due process demands that this vote be delayed so that the community has a full opportunity to be heard.

One phone call from the Mayor’s office could get this vote scheduled for next week tabled, so that the legal team for the Coalition for the Preservation of Ground Zero could prepare the case for landmark status. Considering the sudden rush to schedule this all-important vote, it seems a small accommodation.

Does this not deserve further investigation? The only thing worse than Bloomberg’s pernicious callousness, in his refusal to meet with the 911 families on this issue, is the media’s silence. Where are those architectural elitist effetes at the New York Times, who take themselves and their expertise so seriously?


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