Milan and Maria Letica have lived in their Harwood Heights apartment for 20 years, but if a mosque moves in next to them, they say they are moving out.
“Why doesn’t the village take care of the people who have been here for years?” the Leticas’ son, Branco, said. “So many more people are against this than the village knows.”
Branco Letica, who spoke on behalf of his parents because of their limited English, said no one in his parents’ apartment building in the 4700 block of Olcott is pleased with the proposal to turn the old Eisenhower Library building next door into a mosque. He expects many apartment dwellers in the other three buildings butting up to the library property at 4652 Olcott feel the same.
“There will be more people coming. There will be issues,” Branco Letica said of a mosque being in the area. “There will be a lot of traffic. There will be more noise.”
John Pikarski, an attorney with 40 years zoning-case experience, said a mosque is a much more conducive use of the property for the nearby neighbors than what the building, zoned industrial, could hold.
“Some fairly offensive uses can go in there as a matter of right,” Pikarski said.
“This is what I consider a substitution of uses,” Pikarski added. “This is one public use for another.”
Pikarski said the mosque could be addressed by the Village Board as soon as Thursday’s meeting, but the issue is not listed as an item on the board’s agenda, posted on the village website.
Mayor Arlene Jezierny could not be reached for comment on the matter. The request has already been approved by the village’s Plan Commission.
The applicant, Mercy Islamic Community Center, meets at the Islamic Community Center of Illinois, Pikarski said. An office manager for ICCI said Mercy does not use the facility on a weekly basis, but contacts the Belmont Avenue-based center when looking for space for services and activities.
“This is a group that is growing and needs its own space,” Pikarski said. “They are largely upper middle-class people. They are dentists, doctors, engineers, architects. They are from surrounding suburbs — from Park Ridge on in [to the city]. These are people who live in the area.”
Pikarski said the mosque is a benign use of the existing building. He said Mercy Islamic will take a building that does not meet safety codes and bring it up to code. The mosque will update a building that should be saved instead of knocked down, Pikarski said.
The zoning attorney said the building would be used fewer than six days a week and that the busiest time would be at noon Friday.
“This is a good transitional use for the residences to the north and the industrial properties to the south and east,” Pikarski said.
The Leticas believe the transition will be anything but smooth for nearby neighbors.
“People have lived here for so long. Why the change?” Branco Letica asked. “This change is not welcomed. Why doesn’t the village work on behalf of the people who live there? All they are doing this for is the money. . . . No one cares about the residents’ happiness.”
Branco Letica said with all that is happening in the Middle East right now, neighbors are concerned about a mosque next to them.
“We are willing to get people together to fight this,” Branco Letica said.
Good for you Branco. You wil, however, likely end up fighting a corrupt U.S. government who has made it a top priority to open mosques in areas not zoned for them and where residents don’t want them.
Eisenhower himself was no stranger to Islam and Walid Shoebat notes, Eisenhower Opens a Mosque In… 1957 (click for video)
In 1957 – barely a decade after President Dwight Eisenhower had seen victory against the Nazis – the former General visited the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. for the mosque’s dedication ceremony.
Apparently presidential kissing of Muslim asses is older than most realize. Read the all too familiar propaganda from a U.S. president to Muslims:
Remarks at Ceremonies Opening the Islamic Center
June 28, 1957
Mr. Ambassador, Dr. Bisar, Governors of the Islamic Center, and distinguished guests:
It is a privilege to take part in this ceremony of dedication.
Meeting with you now, in front of one of the newest and most beautiful buildings in Washington, it is fitting that we re-dedicate ourselves to the peaceful progress of all men under one God.
And I should like to assure you, my Islamic friends, that under the American Constitution, under American tradition, and in American hearts, this Center, this place of worship, is just as welcome as could be a similar edifice of any other religion. Indeed, America would fight with her whole strength for your right to have here your own church and worship according to your own conscience.
This concept is indeed a part of America, and without that concept we would be something else than what we are.
The countries which have sponsored and built this Islamic Center have for centuries contributed to the building of civilization. With their traditions of learning and rich culture, the countries of Islam have added much to the advancement of mankind. Inspired by a sense of brotherhood, common to our inner most beliefs, we can here together reaffirm our determination to secure the foundation of a just and lasting peace.
Our country has long enjoyed a strong bond of friendship with the Islamic nations and, like all healthy relationships, this relationship must be mutually beneficial.
Civilization owes to the Islamic world some of its most important tools and achievements. From fundamental discoveries in medicine to the highest planes of astronomy, the Muslim genius has added much to the culture of all peoples. That genius has been a wellspring of science, commerce and the arts, and has provided for all of us many lessons in courage and in hospitality.
This fruitful relationship between peoples, going far back into history, becomes more important each year. Today, thousands of Americans, both private individuals and governmental officials, live and work-and grow in understanding-among the peoples of Islam.
At the same time, in our country, many from the Muslim lands-students, businessmen and representatives of states-are enjoying the benefits of experience among the people of this country. From these many personal contacts, here and abroad, I firmly believe that there will be a broader understanding and a deeper respect for the worth of all men; and a stronger resolution to work together for the good of mankind.
As I stand beneath these graceful arches, surrounded on every side by friends from far and near, I am convinced that our common goals are both right and promising. Faithful to the demands of justice and of brotherhood, each working according to the lights of his own conscience, our world must advance along the paths of peace.
Guided by this hope, I consider it a great personal and official honor to open the Islamic Center, and I offer my congratulations to its sponsors and my best wishes to all who enter into its use.
Thank you very much.
Since Eisenhower’s time, presidents have yet to find the elusive benefits from Islam.