CB 11 OK’s Amethyst Street Mosque plan

CB 11 OK’s Amethyst Street Mosque plan
Arthur Cusano

The plan to build a new mosque on Amethyst Street to replace the existing Bronx Muslim Center on Rhinelander Avenue has been approved by Community Board 11.

Board members voted overwhelmingly to support the project at the Thursday, May 25 full board meeting.

CB 11 Land Use Committee chairperson Joe McManus recommended the full board approve the project at 1912-1920 Amethyst Street after the committee unanimously approved the project at its May 10 meeting.

The application will now be forwarded to the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals where zoning variances must be approved, said CB 11 district manager Jeremy Werneke.

The new facility is aimed at alleviating overcrowding at the popular mosque at 702 Rhinelander, said the attorney representing Bronx Muslim Center in the application, Michael Nacmias of Brooklyn.

The current mosque holds roughly 150 worshippers, but the congregation has approximately 800 members, more that the mosque can accommodate.

The applicant submitted final blueprints at the May 10 meeting confirming the bulk of the planned structure’s footprint was within the zoning code, according to meeting minutes.

They also submitted a survey of their congregants that confirmed that most lived within walking distance of the planned mosque.

Concerns voiced by board members and local community organizations, such as the lack of parking and overcrowding at the current mosque, had been adequately evaluated, McManus said.

“Every BSA or ULERP we get has parking as an issue,” McManus explained. “I don’t remember one that hasn’t been.”

Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance president Bernadette Ferrara told fellow board members her organization and the Morris Park Association held a town hall meeting with mosque leaders earlier in the year where concerns were discussed.

She said the mosque was a positive presence in the neighborhood and that several mosque members have become regular attendees of VNNA meetings, she said.

The alliance has written a recommendation in favor of the project, Ferrara said, but also listed the conditions that must be addressed, most notably the parking and crowding issues.

“On Fridays when they have their prayer, the parking is just awful,” Ferrara said. “You have people double and triple parking, and you just can’t do that regardless of what house of worship you are. These are things that, if you don’t want animosity, you need to be a good neighbor.”

CB 11 vice chair and Morris Park Association president Al D’Angelo said his association was okay with the project, and were also confident that the community’s voiced concerns would be heeded.

“I think it’s a good idea,” D’Angelo said. “They needed more space. It was a problem where they were, and it will alleviate the parking problem on Rhinelander (Avenue).”

Nacmias said the application process was moving along in an efficient manner and did not anticipate any obstacles as the project proceeded.

He anticipated the project would likely get approved by the BSA in a few months.

He also said his clients were taking community and board concerns to heart.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.