Build it and they will come….and come….and come….bringing with them, excessive noise, traffic and parking congestion at all hours of the night. The Al-Farooq Islamic Center opened less than a year ago and now they don’t give a fatwa about how much misery they cause their neighbors.
Sun Reader, Theresa Carter, says:
“Requests for comment from the center’s leadership, Dar al Farooq Community Center of Minneapolis, have not been returned.” That should be the first hint that they do not care whether they are being good neighbors or not. Good neighbors try to work things out.
Sun Current Long before the Al Farooq Youth and Family Center opened its doors in east Bloomington, neighborhood residents lined up to cite countless reasons why the organization shouldn’t be granted a conditional-use permit. Despite the objections, the (paid off?) Bloomington City Council granted the CUP more than a year ago. In the months since the organization opened to Friday afternoon prayer services, among other things, the complaints have continued to occupy the council’s time. And at least one council member has joined the chorus of the disenchanted.
“I think it’s time to bring Al Farooq back in here and review their conditions on their conditional-use permit,” Councilmember Vern Wilcox told the council at its Aug. 6 meeting. “If they’re not going to obey the conditions, I’m ready to vote to pull the conditional-use permit,” he added.
Wilcox took aim at the organization after the council heard complaints about the late night activity taking place at the former school building on Park Avenue and the traffic volume generated by the building on Friday afternoons. Despite his disapproval of activities at the Muslim youth and family center, the city’s options to address concerns of the neighborhood may not be as heavy handed as Wilcox would like.
A recurring objection of the neighborhood has been the traffic generated by the building during Friday afternoon prayer services held at the Muslim center.
The city has observed the traffic volume generated by the weekly prayer service, according to City Manager Mark Bernhardson. He told the council that parking on Friday afternoons has spilled onto nearby streets, despite the appearance of adequate parking available in off-street parking lots. If parking demand exceeds the available off-street parking, the city may require that the Muslim center construct an additional 50 off-street parking spaces, Bernhardson noted.
Late night use of the building drew greater criticism, with complaints that the building is being used for gatherings that last until 1 a.m., according to Sally Ness, the primary spokesperson of the neighborhood. When the building was initially being considered as a Muslim community center, “that was not proposed,” Ness told the council.
The building was proposed as a Muslim community center that included a day care and school component in addition to Friday afternoon prayer services. “This building is a disguise for a religious facility,” according to Vi Rozek, a neighborhood resident. “(As always) they disguised their original intent from all of us by telling each and every one of us that this building was going to be a private, primary school and community center.
“They have not shown respect for the neighborhood.” (So, what else is new?)