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Mt. Sinai Mosque Debate Continues; Written Comment Extension Given

No decision made as both sides speak on Mt. Sinai mosque issue Monday.

The first public discussion in almost two months regarding the proposed Mount Sinai mosque was thorough and at times heated during Monday's Town of Brookhaven Planning Board meeting.

Mohammed Sameen's proposal to convert an existing 74' x 142.4' barn to a place of worship at 515 Mt. Sinai-Coram Road has led to much discussion over concerns residents have.

Many worry about traffic that the mosque would bring, while other issues about the controversial topic were brought up as well.

Emotions flared at times as Vincent Pascale, Chairman of the planning board, had to threaten to terminate the meeting after outbursts from the audience continued despite warnings. Many who brought comments to the planning board regarding traffic safety reiterated that their concerns had nothing to do with the mosque itself.

"My issue is not whether it’s a mosque, but this isn’t really the place for it," said Bob Howe, who lives off Mt. Sinai-Coram Road. "I think there should be a turning lane. I’ve lived on this road quite a while and whenever I make a turn I worry I’m going to get rear-ended. Widening the road at the location I think is the only reasonable solution to the traffic problem."

Local Henry Ellis added that while many are clearly concerned about the traffic, there are also other factors at play.

"Some feel that because they have traffic concerns they could be prejudged as bigots, and that's a bad thing," Ellis said. "But being a non-Muslim myself and being part of the community, I can tell you that there are some comments that are made that make you believe there’s more going on here than concerns about traffic."

Creating a left turn lane was a point made by plenty who spoke, and another concern was the number of people the mosque would bring. There are 54 parking spots allotted in the proposal, which Sameen and lawyer Timothy Shea estimate would be more than sufficient for peak times [Friday afternoons].

"Are you certain that on a Friday afternoon, as the 50 cars that are provided parking are turning into that one lane entrance to the mosque and the traffic builds up behind theses vehicles on that one lane road in each direction, that you can protect our health and safety?," resident Harriet Darvis asked.

Members of the local Muslim community, who mostly now travel to the mosque in Selden, are excited about the proposal and believe it will be a benefit to the community.

"To me, the convenience of being able to go to a mosque in a residential area is really great because you feel comfortable and at home," said Shah Mirza. "I think the major positive that comes out of these meetings is that we’re all becoming are of the possible problems we may encounter. As far as the traffic situation, I think that the 600-home hamlet and over-commercialization are larger problems than a house of worship."

The discussion closed as Pascale gave a 10-day extension for written comment before the proposal is placed on the decision calendar. Sameen again was pleased to hear from those concerned.

"We've been more than happy to open up and address the concerns of the community," he said. "The project is for the community itself, so by all means we’re more than happy to address it and we are concerned about the issues that affect them."

Bucknell Barrow February 27, 2013 at 12:09 PM
Oh it was fine, that traffic patterns would change when they built the development. How did people feel about traffic when the proposed the land development for the community. Offering bucolic living on the North Shore of Long Island. Move here, live here, commune here, but don't built any place to worship..Go someplace else for that.. Since when, in this country, do we object to individuals gathering for prayer.. You can live in this community, but you can't pray in this community… What house of worship, on Sunday or Saturday, has not had it's traffic objections, to the extent, many now have traffic wardens on the road, to direct traffic.. I don't belive, that this community will be so adversely affected by a mere 50 worshipers. No more then the stop and go of school buses picking up and dropping off our children.. Other denominations have hundreds, driving to and from their respective house of worship.. I am glad we live in a society that the populace can air their views in a public forum… I really think the people who are objecting to this proposal are not being truthful as to their intentions.. But, only they can speak for themselves,behind closed doors, I am sure. Something tells me that there is a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) movement going on..May the Lord willing, allow people of all faiths to have a place of worship.
Tom February 27, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Don't open the door. this is only the start. Once the approval is reached they will in time apply to the town for more and more and then it's too late. Don't let them get their foot in the door. You don't have to have it in a residential area.
Fred Tartaglione February 27, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Traffic Is always heavy on Mt.Sinai-Coram Road. This is beginning to sound like a case of " not in my neighborhood." I am frustrated with the people of this area from Mt. Sinai to Shoreham who are frustrating progress and freedom by their ideas of "my qauint little neighborhood." We need a little progress. Let lowes come in to the old weed overrun old drivining range/drive-in. it is a waste of good real estate. The idea that this is a mosque is beginnig to sound more prejudicial than preactical to me. I was raised a Roman Catholic, and born a Jew, who is now an athiest, but I have no problem with any religion and where they practice it. I live in the area and I have know problem with nor fear people of other faiths and beliefs. This is the supposidly the land of the free and the home of the brave, The first amendment to the constitution states that states and I quote " Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment of religion or prohibiting free the free excercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of Speech, or of the press, or the right of people to peaceably assemble, and to petion the Government for a redress of grievances." This action taken by the people of the are who say they love this country so much forget what we built 237 years ago in Philidelphia. Many live were lost over the years to protect "our freedoms" and I don't see the need to walk over the grave of the brave fallen nor to bastardize the constitution to our own end. Let the mosque be built.
Fred Tartaglione February 28, 2013 at 10:13 PM
What are "them"? Are "them Muslims? If so then you need to take your unfounded prejudices and start remembering where you live and what we stand for. Your comment sounds a bit prejudicial and racist to me. Most of the poeple you are talking about live and work in this area. They have a right to worship their God here too.
Debbie c. March 01, 2013 at 02:44 AM
Wouldn't it make sense for them to build in an area where they will be able to expand their parish and welcome new members? Why build in an area where the road is already dangerous enough with the amount of traffic it already gets. Just imagine when all of their members try and turn into their parking lot and how much more traffic it will create.
sue March 30, 2013 at 02:36 AM
This is from the Selden Mosque website. Looks like they will want to get larger and larger over time at the Mt. Sinai location as they did in Selden. "An estimated three hundred Muslims come to Friday prayer (Jumm'a) weekly. Eid prayer brings over a thousand Muslims twice a year. Our community is growing and so are our educational programs. We have weekend schools and weekly hifz program. Friday nights our youth fill the Masjid for their youth group meetings. Islamic Association of Long Island was registered in 1974. During that year, IALI became the first Masjid (Mosque) in Suffolk County. It is the oldest Masjid in Suffolk County , still serving the largest Muslim community in its area from Stony Brook on the North Shore of LI to Ronkonkoma on the South Shore , spanning all the way to Riverhead. The region includes a great concentration of Muslims in Selden, Centereach and Coram. In 1979 the actual building was bought in Selden. Ten Park Hill Drive became the Muslim community's Islamic Center. It was originally a church, but after renovation, by the grace of Allah, it has grown into a beautiful Masjid. There have been many extensions added to the building to accommodate the vastly growing Muslim community. Recently in June of 2003, IALI bought a piece of land next door. InshaAllah, this will develop as a parking lot or provide more space for more extensions in the Masjid."
Fred Tartaglione March 30, 2013 at 07:28 AM
Big Deal! Cathol;ic churches do the same thing all the time do you thinl Musims have any less of a right.They live and work among us and you may never know who they are because they are just like us. That is why I am an athiest, I don't believe so I don't judge. Everyone have the right to believe and worship in their own way. The first amendment to the constitution says and I quote "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances". Nowhere does it say not in my neighborhood. Wake up we all live in the same world.

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