VNNA to discuss Muslim Center’s relocation

The Bronx Muslim Center purchased this property on Amethyst Street to build a new mosque that will be able to hold more of its members.
Photo Courtesy of Arthur Cusano

The Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance is planning a town hall for Monday, March 6 to discuss the re-location of the Bronx Muslim Center.

Representatives from the center have been meeting with both the VNNA and Community Board 11 over the past several months to discuss how the center – which is currently located on Rhinelander Avenue – will fit into its new location at 1912-1920 Amethyst Street.

As the Bronx Times previously reported, parking is a hot button issue at the new location.

“It’s a one-way street, and not a very wide,” said Bernadette Ferrara, president of the VNNA. “The number one issue of course is how are you going to control your parking, which (is a problem) with any place of worship.”

“On Rhinelander it was a major issue because people were double and triple parked and cars couldn’t get by,” said Ferrara.

“It creates animosity when common areas are not respected,” she also said. “It’s like a roommate situation.”

According to the center’s attorney, Michael Nacmias of the Eric Plotnick law firm, the current location can serve only 150 worshipers.

This limited capacity leads to worshippers praying outside on the street.

The Bronx Times reached out to Nacmias for further comment but he said his clients no longer want him speaking to the media.

Representatives of the mosque met with the VNNA on Thursday, February 23 to discuss the new site ahead of the Monday meeting.

The Bronx Times obtained a letter from the VNNA to the Bronx Muslim Center recapping the meeting.

According to the letter, local business owners in the community who also attend the mosque agreed to secure additional parking spaces in front of their business to help relieve the parking problem.

However, Ferrara said the members of the mosque are still going to have to make sure the parking situation is manageable.

The mosque can hold up to 525 people and it’s busiest hours are on Friday from noon to 2 p.m.

Ferrara suggested one way parking issues may be alleviated is having someone from the mosque available to let members know when they are blocking someone on the street.

The VNNA president said the town hall will serve as a way for neighbors to be informed since everyone may not be completely knowledgeable on the mosque’s moving plans.

“A town hall really is just a place for people to listen and ask questions,” said Ferrara. “And we make sure nothing gets out of hand and we stop things as soon as somebody decides to get on a soapbox.”

Ferrara also hopes that any residents that chose not to attend the meeting and learn about the issue, won’t come back later and complain about the relocation.

“If [this topic] means something to you then you should show up and make your voice heard,” she said. “Show up or shut up.”

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the first floor community room at the Monsignor Fiorentino Apartments at 1830 Amethyst Street.

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchristie@cnglocal.com.

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