Volume 23, Number 15 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | August 18 - 24, 2010

Imam has had no talks with Gov about moving Cordoba

By Aline Reynolds

Cordoba Initiative is sticking to its original construction plans for the Park51 site, despite a tentative offer to swap the Park Place property for state-owned turf elsewhere in the city.

Contrary to several news reports in the last week Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has had no correspondence or scheduled meetings with Governor David Paterson about looking into alternate sites for the community center.

“Cordoba Initiative and Park51 are committed to maintaining the current planned location for the Community Center,” according to a statement posted on the Cordoba Initiative website.

Sharif El-Gamal, C.E.O. and chairman of SoHo Properties (the real estate firm that owns 45-47 Park Place, the former Burlington Coat Factory building), could not be reached today by press time.

Gamal insisted that the Cordoba House will stay put in a recent appearance on the local news channel N.Y. 1. “Park51 is a community center. It is two blocks north of the World Trade Center site,” said El-Gamal. “In New York City, two blocks is a great distance.”

El Gamal continued, “This is a defining moment for you and I and the First Amendment, and I see us passing this test as Americans.”

He also told N.Y. 1 that he is willing to speak to Paterson, but is not open to moving the center.

Paterson proposed the switch early last week in attempt to calm the storm about the community center, which is currently planned for construction steps away from Ground Zero.

“I’m very sensitive to the desire of those who are adamant against it to see something else worked out,” Paterson said last Tuesday at a news conference in midtown Manhattan.
Paterson added, “Frankly, if the sponsors were looking for property anywhere at a distance that would be such that it would accommodate a better feeling among the people who are frustrated, I would look into trying to provide them with the state property they would need.”

 

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