Ground Zero Mosque Building Not Worth Landmarking, Community Board Says
By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — Opponents of the mosque near Ground Zero packed a Community Board 1 meeting Tuesday night, urging the board to halt the project by landmarking the mosque's future site at 45-47 Park Place.
But the community board echoed its previous support of the 13-story, $100 million center and voted 24 to 11 that the city should not landmark the building. Two board members abstained from the vote and one recused himself.
The 152-year-old building at 45-47 Park Place is slated to be torn down to make way for the center.
The meeting grew rowdy at times, with people shouting over each other and booing those who support the mosque, including State Sen. Daniel Squadron. Police officers were present to keep order as the over-capacity crowd in Dance New Amsterdam's TriBeCa auditorium spilled into the hallway.
Joyce Boland, 70, an opponent of the project, said Ground Zero is a cemetery where her 25-year-old son Vincent Boland Jr. and hundreds of others are buried. She questioned the mosque builders’ intentions and said they were dividing people, not bringing them together.
“You don’t extend a hard of friendship with one hand here, [while] another hand is going into your heart and killing you,” she said.
One of the few speakers to vehemently support the mosque was Jeffrey LeFrancois, 25, a Harlem resident. He said the conservatives who oppose the mosque are hypocritical, because they usually support individual freedoms.
“To tell a private landlord what to do with private land is absurd,” LeFrancois said.
Members of the crowd booed him and shouted “homosexual,” but LeFrancois continued talking over them. He said afterward it was “one of the most overwhelming experiences” of his life.
After nearly two hours of public speakers, the community board turned to the issue at hand: landmarking.
Several board members said they thought the 152-year-old building at 45-47 Park Place was worth preserving, and Marc Ameruso, a TriBeCa resident, said the board should not bow to political pressure to support the mosque.
"If it wasn't for the mosque, there would be no way the board wouldn't vote to landmark [45-47 Park Place]," Ameruso said.
But the majority of board members felt the building was not significant enough to qualify as an individual landmark.
The board’s position is advisory. The city Landmarks Preservation Commission will make a final decision in August.