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NHP Islamic Center set for big expansion

Town buildings dept. close to issuing construction permits

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Posted: Thursday, August 9, 2012 11:20 am | Updated: 3:51 pm, Thu Aug 9, 2012.

The Hillside Islamic Center on Hillside Avenue in North New Hyde Park is on the verge of a $1.4 million expansion that would create a three-story structure replacing its existing one-story center at 300 Hillside Ave. in North New Hyde Park.

Abdul Aziz Bhuiyan, president of the Hillside Islamic Center, said the Town of North Hempstead Building Department gave approval for preliminary plans earlier this year and is in the final stages of its review process on plans that include a larger parking lot. 

Bhuiyan said the town has required changes to final architectural plans recently submitted by architect Yusef Guman.

“We’re just fulfilling the requirements for the building department asked for,” Bhuiyan said. “The objections are being worked on.”

Once those changes are submitted, the town Building Department will review them and  would subsequently issue a construction permit, according to Town of North Hempstead spokesman Sid Nathan. He said pending applications include one for the center’s renovation and a second for the parking lot.

The one-story center at 300 Hillside Ave. in North New Hyde Park is now conducting a fundraising campaign among its congregants to raise the money needed for a three-story, 9,100-square foot structure on 23,000 square feet of land.

“There is a need for a spiritual center to serve the needs of Muslims,” said Bhuiyan in discussing the center’s plans last week.

The center has purchased three adjacent residential properties on North 3rd Street and one property on North 2nd Street in the past year to prepare for the proposed expansion, according to Bhuiyan, who said the center recently completed the purchase of two adjacent houses on 3rd Street for nearly $1 million.

“There are a lot of pledges. We have a long way to go,” Bhuiyan said of the fundraising effort.

Plans for a proposed expansion of the Islamic center were rejected by the Town of North Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals last year after New Hyde Park residents expressed sharp opposition at a public hearing to the center’s plans to purchase adjacent residential properties to expand the parking lot of the existing structure.

Bhuiyan said the center’s leadership then realized that seeking a change in the residential zoning of the area was not needed. 

Religious institutions are a permitted use in residential zones, so no BZA intervention is required, town spokesman Nathan said.

The congregation, or jama, now has an attendance of several hundred worshippers at its Friday services and daily attendance of 100 to 150 worshippers the rest of the week, Bhuiyan said. 

During the holy days of Ramadan being observed this month, a large tent is erected on the center’s grounds to accommodate the congregants who also attend daily prayers at the New Hyde Park Elks Lodge on Lakeville Road.

The center hopes to break ground at the end of Ramadan later this month, according to Bhuiyan, who said “God willing” the project will completed a year hence.

Bhuiyan said the realtor handling at least one of the 3rd Street properties told people inquiring about the purchaser that the house would not be sold to the Muslim Center. But either the state of the housing market or the disposition of the seller apparently changed.

Bhuiyan offered a spiritual perspective on the purchase of the property, saying, “We trust in Allah. Whatever is good will happen. We’re not here for vengeance.”  

Let us know what you think by tweeting @theislandnow1 using #nhpislamiccenter

Reach reporter Richard Tedesco by e-mail at rtedesco@theislandnow.com or by phone at 516.307.1045 x204. Also follow us on Twitter @theislandnow1 and Facebook at facebook.com/theislandnow.

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