To the Editor:
I attended the Zoning Board Meeting last week that was convened to address the issue of constructing an Islamic mosque in the middle of Bayonne.
An overflowing crowd of several hundred citizens turned out that night. In fact, over 100 people were denied access and were never allowed inside to listen to the proceedings and ask questions.
The Zoning Board should make better accommodations for the March 14 meeting that has been scheduled to again take up this subject. Also, it is clear that those who wanted the mosque constructed did not make their case. The vast majority of Bayonne citizens present spoke against it because the proposal was not up to code, and it is not appropriate in a quiet residential neighborhood.
Personally I was very disappointed in how the meeting was conducted. While the room was filled with people from Jersey City and New York City, a large number of town residents were denied access to the meeting. As I stood there on Tuesday night and watched the police close the doors on their very own neighbors, I heard the police say the room was at capacity.
One thing I didn’t hear the police say was how many people can fit in the room and how many were actually in there. Since there was no official count taken, nor were any accommodations made for the Bayonne residents, I believe that there was a large number of people who had their civil rights violated.
One other point about the conduct of the Zoning Board meeting. Whenever a Bayonne resident spoke at the microphone against building the Mosque, they were required to give their address. But when individuals in favor of the mosque spoke, this standard was not applied. It was clear from the number of cars with New York license plates parked in the vicinity that many pro-mosque people in the audience came from out of town and did not reside in Bayonne. Let’s have one standard for all, not a double standard.
Shouldn’t residents be allowed into their meeting before guests from other cities?
From the onset of this proposed project on E. 24th St. everyone on the zoning board and in City Hall was made aware that there would be a large turnout for this meeting. Isn’t that why they held a special meeting? Or did they hold it on a Tuesday for some other reasons?
I urge all Bayonne residents to attend the Zoning Meeting on March 14. It’s time to speak out to reject the construction of a facility that does not meet the building codes of our town and save a nice residential neighborhood. Neither the East Side nor any other section of Bayonne is “a dump, as Councilman Sal Gullace so pompously and publicly proclaimed.
But, one thing is certain. City Hall continues to treat the taxpaying residents of the East Side as orphans, and is failing to provide adequate representation to the needs of neighborhood after neighborhood in our town. City Hall is trying to run roughshod over the will of the people.
MICHAEL J. ALONSO