Park51 Asks for Federal Funding

by Katrina Trinko

The developers who are working on building a mosque and Islamic community center two blocks from Ground Zero have requested $5 million for projects from the federally-funded Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), according to The Daily Beast. The LMDC eligibility requirements for projects are:


Eligible projects are community or cultural facilities that (a) provide education, employment, economic development or health care services, (b) meet recreational or community gathering needs, and (c) demonstrate the ability to spur long-term Lower Manhattan revitalization, and benefit area residents, workers, businesses and visitors.

If religious groups apply, the money must be for “a facility or a portion of a facility that is dedicated to non-religious activities or uses.” This is how the developers describe the project on their website:

Park51 has applied for a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation grant which would in part fund social service programs for all the residents of Lower Manhattan such as domestic violence prevention, Arabic and other foreign language classes, programs and services for homeless veterans, two multi-cultural art exhibits and immigration services.

It is important to note that that this community center will provide hundreds of construction jobs over the next few years and when opened will provide 150 permanent jobs. In addition, this community center, which will include a gym, a pool, a day care center, a pre-K, a culinary institute, tech classes, an amphitheater, and a 9/11 Memorial, is desperately needed in Lower Manhattan. This is why community leaders and the residents who live there universally support this project.

According to the New York Times, LMDC will be distributing $17 million in grants. Two hundred and fifty-five organizations have applied, asking for a total of $170 million. On the application form, LMDC asks for a detailed explanation if “your grant request is outside the preferred range of grant amounts ($100,000-$1,000,000).”

There has been no date set for when LMDC will announce who receives the grants. Park51, for which $20,000 had been raised as of the group’s most recent financial disclosure, is estimated to cost $140 million to build.

The move has already reignited the controversy. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., MN), tweeted that it was “outrageous to even consider federal funds go to building a mosque at Ground Zero.” Rep. Peter King (R., NY), the anticipated new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Fox News that the request went “entirely against the spirit of the fund.”

“It’s an affront to the memory of all those who were murdered on 9-11,” King continued. “There are so many worthwhile projects in lower Manhattan. This shows a gross insensitivity to the most fundamental feelings of New Yorkers and to those murdered on 9-11.”

LMDC was founded after September 11 and “is charged with ensuring Lower Manhattan recovers from the attacks and emerges even better than it was before,” according to their website’s description. “The centerpiece of LMDC’s efforts is the creation of a permanent memorial honoring those lost, while affirming the democratic values that came under attack on September 11.”

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