By Bill Golden
Much has been made of who is financing the building of the mosque that is not really a mosque just blocks from Ground Zero in New York City. The Cordoba House, as the mosque that is not a mosque is called, is estimated to cost $100,000,000 — none of it coming from U.S. government, state or local governments. And so far none of the funding for the building of Cordoba House has been raised either.
But what if I told you that there is a church just blocks away from the Cordoba House that is being built with taxpayer money at the cost of $60,000,000 or approximately $857,142 per family that attends the church (1). The church is St. Nicolas, a Greek Orthodox church.
The blogosphere is alive with how New York’s government is favoring Cordoba House but bureaucratically blocking the rebuilding of ‘a Christian church’ damaged in 9/11. Most stories do not even give the name of the church and offer even fewer details as to how the rebuilding of this Christian church is being bureaucratically blocked by New York.
About St. Nicolas:
- If you visit the church’s website you will find that they are still collecting money for their own rebuilding of the current church and there is no complaint about any roadblocks being imposed by New York.
- There has been a general design plan for the rebuilding of St. Nicolas, but that is part of the Twin Towers and included within the 9/11 Memorial Funding. The construction is part of a campus concept; change in one part of the design affects other parts. View rebuilding of the Twin Towers via live webcam.
- St. Nicolas appears to be open only for weekend services and is not otherwise a functioning church offering other regularly scheduled services and community activities.
- Some speculation and controversy exists that Cordoba House may accept some foreign funding, yet there seems to be no concern expressed that St. Nicolas has accepted foreign government funding (Greece) to rebuild and to repair the original church; Greek government funding is documented on St. Nicolas’ website.
THE REST OF THE STORY:
- 2004: New York Governor Pataki pledged to rebuild St. Nicolas which was partially destroyed on 9/11 by terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. The funding is to be part of the 9/11 Memorial on the campus of the new Twin Towers.
- 2004-2008: As planning progresses, the city of New York formally offered to spend up to $60,000,000 of taxpayer money as part of the 9/11 memorial funding. $20M was for the church and $40M was to build unique protections for the church should the new twin towers be bombed again.
- 2008: St. Nicolas announces a deal in July 2008 for the full $60 million of U.S. taxpayer money to design a new church six times its original size. St. Nicolas also releases the following statement as to how FAST New York was in helping them: “It’s welcome news,” said Nicholas P. Koutsomitis, an architect who prepared the master plan for St. Nicholas. “They’re running it through very, very quickly. I hope the rest of the schedule for the job gets the same kind of attention.”
- 2009: The deal was still a go in March of 2009 — with the church getting $20 million of taxpayer money up front.
- 2010: The deal went bad in March 2010 when St. Nicolas appears to have decided that what it really wanted to do was to move to a new location, and to rebuild using taxpayer money.
- 2010: Fox News reported in mid-August 2010 that the church rejected New York’s offer of $60 million taxpayer dollars to rebuild where it is, instead of paying for a new church to be built elsewhere.
New York Port Authority statement (August 2010):
“St. Nicholas Orthodox Church has always had and will continue to have the right to rebuild on its original location. The question was whether public money would be spent to build a much larger church at a separate location on the site and ensuring that construction wouldn’t delay the World Trade Center further,” spokesman Stephen Sigmund said in a written statement. “On that question, we worked for many years to reach an agreement and offered up to 60 million dollars of public money to build that much larger new church. After reaching what we believed was an agreement in 2008, representatives of the church wanted even more public commitments, including unacceptable approvals on the design of the Vehicle Security Center that threatened to further delay the construction on the World Trade Center and the potential for another $20 million of public funds.”
Throughout most of the blogosphere, and even in most traditional media reporting, almost none of the above is offered in discussion.
1- There are approximately 70 families that belong to St. Nicolas which mathematically works out to $857,142.85 ($60M / 70 families).