NEW YORK (CBS 2) — The debate over the proposed mosque and community center at Ground Zero was heating up once more Tuesday. Those opposed to the project are furious after learning the developers of Park 51 have applied for grant money, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reports.
“I was shocked,” said 9/11 first responder Tim Brown. “I think it’s the middle finger to the families.”
Brown said the latest move by the developers was worse than a slap in the face. Developers sought $5 million in 9/11 development grant money.
The center will include a mosque, a gym and a daycare.
On their website, developers touted the need for grant money to help fund “desperately-needed programs like domestic violence support groups, Arabic lessons and immigration services.”
The buck will stop with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which is in charge of the money. They’ve set aside $17 million for the cultural enhancement of the area around ground zero and, so far, they’ve received nearly 300 applications from a variety of nonprofits.
Those opposed said developers were flip-flopping on their hallmark issue.
“Imam Rauf and Sharif el Gamal said one day this is nowhere near ground zero. The next day they’re applying for 9/11 grant funding,” Brown said.
Despite the vocal outcry from some survivors and family members, a significant number support the project.
“I’m an Episcopalian. It’s hypocritical of me to tell someone else they can’t practice their religion,” said Charles Wolf, whose wife was killed on 9/11.
A spokesperson for LMDC said they were evaluating all applicants and will award the grant money to those who best meet the area’s long-term needs.
Park 51 was expected to cost around $100 million to build.