Dear Council President McLaughlin and Council Members Johnson, Isaac, Sabatino, Shepherd, Breen and Larkin:
Like you, I am a proud Yonkers resident. Yonkers is my community, the place I have chosen to raise my family, and where I do my best daily to be a productive citizen and a good neighbor. I believe in being law abiding and civically engaged, and like all other residents, I expect to be treated fairly by those in elected office who represent all members of the community, majority and minority voices alike. On April 6th, 2016, there was a decision by the Landmark Preservation Board to recommend the approval of a landmark status application on 2 Grandview Blvd, the site for a proposed Mosque, a house of worship for Muslims. Like Christianity and Judaism, Islam is part of the Abrahamic faith and requires those that subscribe to its faith to perform acts of worship like prayer, fasting, and charity giving. However, the approved Landmark application sets an undue burden in cost and time delays on the construction of the Mosque. It is also a heavy imposition on the legal protections of the landowners of the property, who bought the completely deteriorated home after years on the market without any interest from the rest of the community. Additionally, the application is extremely weak; even the historian member of the Landmark Preservation Board openly admitted that the application fails on just about every criterion and the one criterion it deemed passing was not certain. To make matters worse, there is strong reason to believe that some of the opposition to the construction of the Mosque stems from baseless and biased personal opinions of Muslims. Disgracefully, some discriminatory remarks were made at the initial public hearing.
Now the matter is to be decided by you, our elected Council Members. I respectfully request and very strongly urge you reject the landmark status application. By rejecting the application you will uphold the legal right of all citizens, including Muslims in our community, to have a place of worship without any further hindrance. By rejecting the landmark application, you will be firmly asserting your commitment to the principles of freedom of religion and equality that make Yonkers, and our nation, a place deserving of admiration by both you and I, and future generations to come.