When my wife and I learned that we were expecting a baby, we knew that we needed a home for our growing family. The search for a home was difficult. I knew little about real estate, had no idea how much my family could afford. Thankfully, my wife decided to look in Sheepshead Bay.
We fell in love with the neighborhood: quiet streets, shady trees and beaches, great shopping and delicious restaurants just blocks away. When we entered our future house, we knew that we found a home for our growing family.
Many years and two more kids later, we still have the same home: small and quirky, but warm and cozy. We never imagined moving, and certainly never expected to be pushed out. Unfortunately, the ill-conceived plan to build a huge mosque and community center just feet from our house turned our lives upside-down. For instance:
1) Our bedroom window will be facing a large structure meant to accommodate hundreds of people. According to reviews on CitySearch, the Bath Beach chapter of the same Muslim organization is said to be “busy day in and day out … parties and classes are always there.”
2) We have no driveway or garage, and expect people coming to the community center to take up every available parking spot.
3) It will be harder to drive somewhere because the street is one way in each direction.
4) There will be constant noise: amplified calls to prayer, honking cars, people coming to worship five times a day, and parties.
5) Twice a day all the activities at the community center happen at the same time as teachers and students arrive and leave a public school which is less than a block away. This leads to more noise, traffic, and less parking.
6) Finally, as my quality of life deteriorates and I can’t take it any longer, I’ll decide to move, but — surprise! — nobody will want to buy my house. Why? Because of the noise, traffic, lack of parking, crowded sidewalks, etc. Have you heard of a Catch-22? Welcome to my reality!
Am I bitter? Sure I am! This is my home we are talking about! Can you honestly say that you wouldn’t oppose this particular construction? I beg every reader to imagine themselves in my position and please answer the following question: “What would you do?” Please, be honest with yourselves!
Proponents of the mosque are trying to convince everyone that our concerns are ungrounded. Moreover, anyone opposing the project is called an “Islamophobe.” That characterization is unfair and very painful. I would oppose any type of large building, synagogue, church, mosque, or any other non-religious structure that would threaten to destroy my family’s right to quietly use and enjoy our property.
Fortunately, hundreds of Sheepshead Bay residents realize that this enormous project, on a quiet residential street, would be a tremendous nuisance for everyone, regardless of religion. As a result, we came together as Bay People. We will protect our rights and we will make sure our American dreams and our quality of life are not sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.
Alex Tenenbaum is a resident of Sheepshead Bay and a member of the organization Bay People.