NEW HYDE PARK, NY (WCBS 880) - A parking lot for the Hillside Islamic Center is at the heart of a controversy on Long Island.
Mohamed Khan, a trustee, said the center, which has been in the community for seven years, bought the house behind the mosque hoping to increase parking availability for worshippers.
"We are proposing to put in 18 parking spots," Khan told 1010 WINS' Mona Rivera. The center currently has a 19 spot lot. He said on a busy evening many worshippers have to park on the street.
Homeowners say they oppose the plan for a new lot, not because of the religion, but because of further encroachment on residential lifestyle.
Ed Weiss is among the affected.
"...and where does it stop?" Weiss told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs. "You know, does somebody all of a sudden decide that they want to buy two houses in the middle of Hillside Boulevard and, at that point, decide to put up a warehouse, and now you have trucks coming in and out of the neighborhood? That's our concern."
"You can't park in front of your house," one resident said. "You're coming home from work and it's a big problem.
Amid cries of anti-Islam, residents say the issue is not about opposition to any religion, but it's about protecting their neighborhood from commercialism.
"It's fine that they worship, we don't care about that," resident Marie Gigliotti said. "But if they increase the size of the parking lot more people are going to come and there's still going to be parking on our streets."
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