The oldest mosque on Long Island is ready to expand.
Joined by elected officials and neighbors of the Westbury community, members of the Islamic Center of Long Island dug shovels into the ground to commemorate the beginning of an “ambitious” expansion project that will add classrooms and additional parking to relieve the concerns of neighbors in the area.
Dr. Faroque Khan, a member of the board of trustees for the ICLI thanked elected officials and members of the community as they joined him to “launch the next phase” of the mosque.
“We at the Islamic Center are embarking on an ambitious project, and in the process establishing an institution,” he said, “that will have a lasting and positive impact.”
As part of its expansion the ICLI—which was the first mosque to be built east of New York City—plans to knock down houses owned by the facility to add more parking. Khan announced that a classroom, gym, library and conference center will be built for all members of the Long Island community to use.
“Looking ahead,” Khan said, “[we welcome] all of you to visit and utilize the facilities for your personal and community needs.”
The mosque received approval to expand from both the planning and zoning boards in March.
Peter Cavallaro, mayor of the Village of Westbury, said he was “extremely proud” of the local community, including nearby neighbors who had concerns over parking and congestion during prayer services at the mosque.
“Residents were open-minded,” he said, “and the residents were willing to listen to the genuine needs of this Islamic community.”
After several discussions with nearby residents, Khan said Friday prayer service—which is usually the busiest—will be split into two sessions to reduce congestion in the neighborhood.
After the presentation, members of the ICLI and elected officials grabbed hard hats and shovels as they threw dirt in the air to celebrate the expansion of the mosque.
Leading the enthusiastic crowd in breaking ground was North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman who credited the town for coming together, and “still be a neighbor” as some local residents voiced concerns over the expansion project.
“We are proud and honored to have this ground breaking here today, to grow this community both spiritually and in community with all faiths,” Kaiman said. He added, “That is the message here today.”
The first groundbreaking ceremony for the ICLI was in December of 1989—one of the coldest days that year, said Khan, who joked that they picked one of the hottest days of the year to hold the ceremony.
“I think it can be 150 degrees today,” said Cavallaro, “and still be the perfect day to have our ground breaking here because it’s a longtime coming.”