Here is a development that we at ACT! Cleveland will most definitely be keeping an eye on. Bob Sandrick from the Sun News reports that the Islamic Center of Cleveland is planning an “expansion”. Please read the entire article several times to make yourself aware of the details. Here are several excerpts that are especially interesting.
Parma’s planning commission, although it approved the lot consolidation, had concerns about past issues related to the Islamic center.
Commissioner John Bischof said that when the city originally approved the Islamic center mosque, the center and then-Mayor Michael Reese entered into an unwritten gentleman’s agreement.
Bischof said the center promised to construct two office buildings on its property. The offices would stand on both sides of the mosque entrance.
The promise was made because the Islamic center stands in a “research manufacturing” zone meant for businesses. The city, by allowing the center to build there, lost income tax revenues that businesses would have generated.
Bischof asked Abdelkarim when the center was going to honor the gentlemen’s agreement.
I advise Mr. Bischof to get things put into writing in the future with any group. Do we expect our elected officials to make special off-the-books deals with Jews, Catholics or Lutherans? I don’t see why this is acceptable to do with Muslims. Certainly “reaching out” seems to have gone too far when trust is not repaid and even the effort appears to be lacking.
Abdelkarim said the agreement was made before his time, since he’s been involved with the Islamic center for only the past five years. Although it would be hard to attract businesses to office buildings, he said the center would try.
The commission, as part of its lot consolidation approval, asked the center to make an “honest effort” to build the offices and fill them with tenants.
Still nothing in writing, in other words.
Meanwhile, Service Director Brian Higgins warned the center not to cut down trees without a city permit. He said the center did so about three years ago.
Abdelkarim admitted that it happened and said it was part of a plan to expand the parking lot in front of the mosque. He said the center removed a few trees so that potential contractors could see the scope of the lot expansion. The project was canceled once the center realized it had unknowingly violated city code.
A dubious excuse. The contractors mentioned obviously never heard of Photoshop or computer aided design.
On second thought, let’s keep both eyes on this expansion project.