Roxbury resident filed suit yesterday against the city of Boston and a controversial new $22 million Islamic center in his neighborhood, arguing that Boston violated the separation of church and state when it cut a complex land deal with the center’s developers.
In a suit filed in Suffolk Superior Court, plaintiff James C. Policastro alleges two violations each of the state and federal constitutions:
He claims the Boston Redevelopment Authority accepted less than fair market value for the parcel of city land where the towering new mosque and community center are being built. The project is expected to yield the biggest Islamic institution in the Northeast.
The BRA valued the parcel at $401,187.50. According to the suit, it took a cash payment of $175,000 from the center’s developers, then made up the rest of the price tag by valuing at $272,663 a series of benefits the developers are granting Roxbury Community College.
For example, the BRA assessed the value of a lecture series the Islamic Society of Boston plans to conduct at the college at $115,598. It assessed the value of an Islamic library of 5,000 volumes slated for the community college at $80,000.
Policastro claims the valuations are “substantially inflated,” and as a result the city is unconstitutionally subsidizing a religion – Islam.