Ground Zero 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – In a hearing Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court, lawyers
representing a New York City 9/11 firefighter stood in opposition to the
inaccurately- labeled “Ground Zero mosque” – an Islamic cultural center whose
proposed location near Ground Zero has attracted headlines, and vociferous
debate since last summer.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)
filed suit last year, challenging the New York City Landmarks Preservation
Commission’s (LPC) decision not to landmark the building at the proposed site
for the Islamic cultural center project, tentatively titled Park 51.
ACLJ represents Tim Brown, a New York City firefighter and 9/11 responder, and
the suit names the LPC, the New York City Department of Buildings, New York City
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the developers of Park 51.
Following a motion
to dismiss the case, the ACLJ argued in yesterday’s hearing, among other points,
that political pressure from Bloomberg’s office forced the LPC’s hand, and
requested further discovery.
“We believe there were political influences
from the Mayor’s office on the Landmarks Commission,” ACLJ attorney Brett Joshpe
told The Jerusalem Post
Since the respondents have claimed two
exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act law, Joshpe added, his
organization has not yet been able to tell whether there were direct
communications between the two entities – an issue underlying the request for
Other issues under consideration were whether or not Tim Brown
has legitimate grounds to serve as a plaintiff in the suit under New York
With last summer’s hue and cry over the issue, alternative sites
were proposed by various parties. But as the story has receded from front page
headlines, Joshpe said, offers to find or provide alternative locations seem to
have been ephemeral.
“I’ve not heard anything of late that would suggest
that they’re amenable to that,” Joshpe said, referencing a change of
Judge Paul Feinman indicated that a ruling could come as early
as four weeks from now.