Written by Betsy Abraham Wednesday, 28 August 2013 00:00
Dr. Faroque Khan remembers when the Islamic Center of Long Island was nothing more than a small two-story house and huge lawn.
“When we purchased the original house, it had a nice open lawn and that was the attraction,” Khan said. “On that unoccupied lawn, we built the mosque.”
Now, 20 years later, Khan stands at the start of another major building project. ICLI recently broke ground on a major expansion that will allow the center to continue their mission of promoting interfaith unity.
The $4 million expansion will create a courtyard and additional two-story building in the back of the property which will help meet the needs of the growing congregation. It will have 13 classrooms, a family lounge, a gym, library and conference room, offices, multipurpose areas, and washing area to prepare the deceased for burial.
The expansion will help the center meet the growing demands of the pre-school, which currently enrolls 18-20 students. ICLI First Vice President, Habeebuddin, Ahmed says that the school has a waiting list and that they are hoping to build a state of the art pre-K that can accommodate up to 35 students. Ahmed says that ICLI is also hoping to establish a food pantry and soup kitchen to benefit the people in Westbury and New Cassel.
Trustee Khan stresses that the new building will be open to everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs. An interfaith institute currently meets at the center and all community groups will be welcome to use the new facility.
“This building will not just be for us, but also for the larger community,” Ahmed said. “It will be a bigger and better place for interfaith meetings. I’m looking forward to this not just for the Muslim community, but for the residents of Westbury and New Cassel.”
The center was originally supposed to start construction in May, but additional paperwork and Ramadan, a Muslim month of fasting anticipated to increase nighttime mosque attendance and traffic, pushed it back to August 16. At 27,000 square feet, the new building will be over three times the size of the current one which is 8,000 square feet. It is located at 835 Brush Hollow Road, in a largely residential neighborhood.
Ahmed knows that the construction will put more pressure on the neighbors, who will have to accommodate 16 months of building crews working in their backyard and extra cars parked in front of their houses. But they are doing everything they can to keep neighbors informed, as well as being open to address any concerns or questions.
The building was originally supposed to be three stories and include a minaret, but ICLI changed the plans to two stories without a minaret after neighbors expressed their concerns. Because construction has minimized the amount of available parking, they have asked congregants to evenly disperse within the two Friday evening services as to not overcrowd the streets.
The $4 million project will be funded by donations. The center already has 1.5 million and Ahmed says he has a good feeling raising the rest of the money won’t be a problem.
“When people see things on the ground- cement being poured, steel being erected-people come through and everyone pitches in and it keeps moving on,” he says.
For more information about ICLI, visit icliny.org or call 333-3495.