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Q&A: Breakdown on rebuilding church near ground zero

Breakdown on rebuilding church

In all the discussion about the proposed mosque near ground zero, I read that local authorities were not cooperating with attempts to rebuild St. Nicholas Church, which was damaged on Sept. 11, 2001. Is there any truth to that?

Greek Orthodox officials and others, including former New York Gov. George Pataki, held a news conference last month to discuss what they said was the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's failure to help rebuild the church, according to the New York Times.

A Port Authority spokesman told the paper that it agreed in 2008 to accommodate a 24,000-square-foot church just east of its original location and promised $20 million to subsidize construction, but final negotiations fell apart over the building's precise site and size.

Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, said the Port Authority "cut off all communications" with church officials, the paper reported.

Owner of proposed mosque site

Who owns the property in New York City where a mosque is being planned?

Sharif El-Gamal, chairman and CEO of Soho Properties, bought the 45-47 Park Place property in 2009, according to the New York Post. He is the main real estate developer behind the project. But the paper reported that the 49-51 Park Place building is still owned by Con Edison (Soho Properties has a long-term lease on the space), although it has been previously reported that Soho owns the entire parcel. The planned 13-story Islamic cultural center, health club and mosque located 300 yards from the World Trade Center memorial has an estimated cost of $100 million.

Pan Am bomber still living

What has become of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Libyan terrorist convicted of plotting the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people in 1988? He was released in August 2009 and received as a hero in Libya. At that time, he was estimated to have three months to live.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi is still alive, and in April, he celebrated his 58th birthday at a Libyan mansion, according to the New York Daily News. The Daily News also reported that al-Megrahi blocked the public release of his medical records in late March, and the London Sunday Telegraph reported in September that the Libyan government had paid for the medical evidence that helped al-Megrahi to be released.

Al-Megrahi was the only terrorist convicted of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing and was sentenced to life in prison in 2001. The UK Independent reported on June 7 that al-Megrahi is "reportedly working on a television documentary which he hopes will clear his name." He lives in a Tripoli suburb with his family under police protection and receives regular chemotherapy.

Q&A: Breakdown on rebuilding church near ground zero 10/11/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 11, 2010 4:18pm]
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