Archive for the tag 'alex tenenbaum'

Opponents of the Sheepshead Bay Islamic Cultural Center have suspended their daily protests after Department of Buildings inspectors shut down construction at 2812 Voorhies Avenue yesterday.

Bay People sent Sheepshead Bites the following message:

Inspectors finally showed to the construction site after Bay People sent a number of letters to DOB officials and politicians calling out “their gross negligence” and ignoring our numerous complaints on the illegal construction, our zoning challenge, videos and pictures that we sent them.

Daily protests will be suspended for now as there is no construction taking place, we will keep you posted once they resume.

WPIX caught the inspectors on video, pulling up the site. You can see their coverage here:

Source: Bay People

The Department of Buildings has confirmed that inspectors visited the site of the Islamic Cultural Center (2812 Voorhies Avenue) today, and ordered all workers to cease construction immediately for violations of their partial Stop Work Order.

Upon inspection, the department found excavation work being performed that violated an existing Stop Work Order on the elevator pit. As a result, the agency is in the process of issuing violations for non-compliant conditions.

The partial Stop Work Order has been in effect since January 14 after rescinding a full Stop Work Order in place since January 6. The SWO’s were a result of complaints from opponents to the construction of the Islamic Cultural Center.

This morning’s inspection likely came at the urging of Bay People, who had an ongoing e-mail exchange yesterday with Ken Lazar, community liaison for the Department of Buildings, complaining that excavation continued in violation of the Stop Work Order. The e-mail included photos (one is above) and video.

Read Bay People’s letter to the DOB, and view the video they sent.

After a year-long Department of Buildings review of the proposed Voorhies Avenue mosque finally passed examiner’s muster last week, the city stunned the center’s proponents by placing a hold on the project.

The agency’s records show that the plan for 2812 Voorhies Avenue was approved on Wednesday, then reviewed and approved a second time on Thursday. After approval from the plan examiner, the filing is now branded with a “Job on hold” message, just as the mosque’s organizers were seeking contractors to begin work.

“Why? I have no idea why,” said Ibrahim Anse, the center’s architect. “It’s a unique situation that puts the DOB in a question mark.”

Keep reading to find out what mosque organizers must do next, and what local leaders are saying about the DOB’s sudden turnaround.

Building plans for a Muslim American Society-run mosque on Voorhies Avenue have been approved by city officials, clearing the way for construction to begin immediately.

The approved plans detail a 35-foot-tall three-story building with a cellar, fitting 121 people inside two worship rooms, a library and classrooms. The brick building at 2812 Voorhies Avenue will not include a roof extension as originally requested, presumably for a minaret, after the Department of Building nixed those plans a year ago. There will be no parking on the property.

With bureaucratic holdups out of the way, mosque organizers are looking to get to work right away.

“We’re looking for a contractor, and there’s still some business to take care of,” said Ibrahim Anse, the project’s architect. “Once we find a contractor … it’s going to be a couple of weeks. Maybe by the end of the month [we'll begin construction].”

But opponents are still vowing to keep fighting to throw the brakes on the project.

“We’re going to keep fighting it,” Alex Tenenbaum, spokesman for Bay People, told the Daily News. “We will keep opposing the project for the same reasons we opposed it from the very beginning.”

Those issues are concerns about traffic, noise and parking disrupting life on the otherwise quiet – and narrow – Voorhies Avenue. To handle those concerns, mosque planners have promised not to broadcast calls to prayer externally, and that the small facility is being created to serve local families who will walk there.

Opponents have also expressed outrage at the backing organization – Muslim American Society – who they say support radical Islamic groups abroad, including Hamas and Hizbollah. The FBI has stated there is “no indication whatsoever the Muslim American Society is affiliated with any organization that threatens our national security.”

Regardless, Anse said he’s not too concerned about a challenge holding up the process, though he did say the organizers remain open-minded to their neighbors’ concerns.

“If they have anything to talk about, we extended our hands, we’ve been extending our hands even though we have approval,” he said.

*This article originally indicated the building would fit 141 people. That was a mistake – the correct number is 121. Apologies for any confusion this may have caused.

At their June 27 rally, Bay People made their case against zoning issues. But attendees had a different message.

In a pair of Brooklyn Paper Op-Eds opponents to the Sheepshead Bay mosque reassert their criticism of zoning issues, while advocates fight for their right to religious freedom.

But the bigots, with their sensational quotes, still provide the focus for the mainstream media’s reports, and no legitimate conversation can emerge until they’ve been addressed.

Keep reading for our take on the Op-Eds and the state of the mosque debate.

From the Daily News:

Opponents battling a proposed Sheepshead Bay mosque have transformed into a fund-raising machine, getting online donations and holding events in glitzy restaurants.

Newly formed neighborhood group Bay People has led the ramped-up fight against the Voorhies Ave. mosque, claiming to have raked in $30,000 from hundreds of local donors.

“When we started this in January, I thought no one would help, but the whole community has come together,” said spokesman Alex Tenenbaum before a wine and hors d’oeuvres fund-raiser last week at Paradise Garden on Emmons Ave.

Their effort has included a mailing to local residents and building a Web site to accept contributions.

The donations will fund a legal strategy to block the mosque by arguing it violates zoning laws and will create noise and traffic problems on the quiet block.

Opponents unleashed a controversy in January when they voiced anti-Islamic rants at a civic meeting and distributed flyers and letters linking Muslims with terrorists.

Tenenbaum and other Bay People officials have tried to tamp down the racial and religious rhetoric; notices for an anti-mosque demonstration on Sunday urge attendees to “be polite and tolerant.”

“We’re not welcoming bigots and Islamophobes,” said Tenenbaum, whose E. 28th St. backyard borders the mosque’s property.

But their ranks include members prone to outbursts that could inflame tensions.

“They [Muslims] want to destroy everything,” said Paradise Garden owner Gregory, who declined to give his full name. “They’re enemies of the United States – all of them. They hate America.”

The organization seeking to halt the development of the proposed Voorhies Avenue mosque held a rally Sunday afternoon to publicize the predicted quality-of-life issues. But prejudiced and fearful statements from attendees revealed a rift in the group that could be undermining its credibility.

Bay People, Inc., organized the rally to convey a clear message: parking, traffic and noise complaints are at the heart of their opposition to the mosque. Speakers came to the sun-drenched podium, many with prepared statements designed to reinforce their defense that they’re not bigots.

“This demonstration is not anti-Muslim,” said one speaker who declined to give his name to Sheepshead Bites. “We’re here to demonstrate against this specific project … this is about our quality of life. It’s about our peace and quiet.”

Keep reading about the protest’s message, and how some say it’s being undermined by bigots.