Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Church still struggling to rebuild nine years later

It has been nine years since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. While construction has begun on the 9/11 memorial as well as other major buildings planned for the site, one community is still struggling to move forward.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has been trying to rebuild St. Nicholas Church, the only house of worship destroyed on 9/11, however the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have refused to honor their agreement to rebuild, and have virtually seized the property.

According to the Orthodox Observer, the Port Authority itself originally proposed 130 Liberty Street in Manhattan, some 100 yards away from its original site, to be the new home of St. Nicholas church.

This issue has drawn national attention in recent weeks following media attention to the efforts of an Islamic group to build a 13-story mosque and cultural center approximately one block away from the St. Nicholas Ground Zero site.

According to Fox News, the Port Authority and the church announced a deal in July 2008 where the Port would grant the land and up to $20 million to rebuild the house of worship. The Port also was willing to pay up to $40 million to construct a bomb-proof platform underneath the site, Fox News reports.

However negotiations between Port Authorities and the church broke off last year, however both parties disagree as to where things left off. Fox News says the Port Authority claims the church made additional monetary demands, while the archdiocese says they are able to proceed on its own if needed.

“It must be rebuilt as a symbol of hope not just for the congregation or even the surrounding community, but also for the whole country,” Fr. Mark Arey, spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese said in a recent edition of the Orthodox Observer. “It was the only church destroyed on 9/11 and the Archdiocese has engaged in honest, candid negotiation with the Port Authority.”

The Archdiocese urges its community to contact elected officials and ask them to confront the Port Authority on the issue. The cause has reached more than 20,000 followers on Facebook and thousands of signatures on official petitions.

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