for The Post Chronicle on May 12, 2010
A New York community board has approved plans for a mosque and Islamic center two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center.
Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf says the building, with a theater, swimming pool and basketball court open to the public, will help foster closer relations between Muslims and other New Yorkers, the New York Daily News reported.
The financial district committee of Community Board I approved the project unanimously Wednesday.
"I think it will be a wonderful asset to the community," the committee's chairman, Ro Sheffe, said.
But some people whose relatives were killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are not happy with the plan. Jim Riches, a retired deputy fire chief, lost his son, a firefighter also named Jim.
"I realize it's not all of them, but I don't want to have to go down to a memorial where my son died on 9/11 and look at a mosque," Riches said.
The project, known as the Cordoba Initiative, began soon after the terrorist attacks. Daisy Khan, the executive director, said opposition has been minimal.
The mosque will occupy the site of a former Burlington Coat Factory Building. Khan said the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund are putting up much of the construction cost.