Why is New York City throwing roadblocks in front of the rebuilding of a church that stood for decades at the site now known as Ground Zero, while moving heaven and earth to clear away all obstacles to building an Islamic supremacist mega-mosque there?
The battle raging over the Ground Zero mosque is bringing new attention to another, less publicized controversy involving a house of worship in Lower Manhattan.
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which once sat right across the street from the World Trade Center, was crushed under the weight of the collapse of Tower Two on September 11, 2001. St. Nicholas was the only church to be lost in the attacks, and nine years later, while City of New York officials are busy removing every impediment to the building of the Cordoba mosque two blocks from the site, St. Nicholas’ future remains unclear.
The last bit of hopeful news for St. Nicholas came two years ago, in July 2008, when church officials and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced a deal which would have allowed the church to be rebuilt about two blocks from its original location.
The Port Authority agreed to give the church a parcel of land at Liberty and Greenwich Streets, and contribute $20 million toward construction of a new sanctuary. The Port Authority also agreed to build an explosion-proof platform and foundation for the new church building, which would sit on top of a screening area for cars and trucks entering the underground garages at the new World Trade Center.
Trouble emerged after St. Nicholas announced its plans to build a traditional Greek Orthodox church building, 24,000 square feet in size, topped with a grand dome. Port Authority officials told the church to cut back the size of the building and the height of the proposed dome, limiting it to rising no higher than the World Trade Center memorial. The deal fell apart for goodin March 2009, when the Port Authority abruptly ended the talks after refusing to allow church officials to review plans for the garage and screening area underneath. Sixteen months later, the two sides have still not met to resume negotiations.
St. Nicholas Church’s difficulty in getting approvals to rebuild stands in stark contrast to the treatment that the developers of the proposed Cordoba mosque have received. New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, state Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo, and a raft of city officials have all come out publicly in favor of building the mosque, and the city’s Landmarks and Preservation Commission recently voted unanimously to deny protection to the building currently occupying the site where the mosque is to be built.
The mosque is proposed to rise 13 stories, far above the height of the World Trade Center memorial, with no height restrictions imposed….