Response to President’s Letter to the Community

ASAK. After reading the President’s Letter to the Community (March 22, 2012), I was left with the impression that he feels that much of the community’s outrage over the current expansion plan is my fault, because I have been e-mailing “unknown numbers of individuals” with calculations that may be “dated, incorrect, or unbalanced.” Forget the fact that the basis of most of my very simple calculations resulted from numbers that the President gave to me. Instead of addressing the concerns that I am raising with concrete facts, the President would rather condemn my calculations.

I left the meeting on March 17 with the distinct impression that even if by some miracle the current plan could be constructed for $7.5-$8.0 million, the community is not interested in that plan for the following reasons:

  • The cost exceeds the amount the community can afford, even at $7.5-$8.0 million.
  • The new prayer area and new lobby are far too large for the community’s needs.
  • The sisters do not want to pray on the second floor.
  • We do not want our current prayer area turned into a social hall.
  • The most pressing need at this time is for additional classrooms. Under the current plan, no new classrooms would be available until after the new structure is built, which could take many years.
  • Maintenance costs on such a large structure will be too high for the community.

Despite these sweeping concerns about the plan, there is nothing in the President’s letter that indicates that they are going to go back and totally rethink the expansion. Instead, they intend to continue to make changes to the current plan. There is also no indication of what their next steps are or what the timeline is for those steps.

The President did indicate that “the BOD [Board of Directors], the BOT [Board of Trustees], Chairman of the Fundraising Committee, both Imams and the Expansion Committee had a joint meeting prior to the last Ramadan and the plans presented were approved (with one ‘Nay’).” But at that meeting, only the 9 Board of Directors’ members voted, and the motion that they voted on was to obtain a price for the plan. They did not vote on approving the plan. And yes, it was my husband who voted against the motion. Considering how the community reacted to the plan at the March 17 meeting, it appears to me that he has a much better understanding of the community’s needs than the rest of these individuals have. And even if 8 or 13 people approved this plan, that does not mean that we have to go through with it if it does not meet the needs of the community.

By waiting 6-7 years (the time the President says they have been working on this project) to ask the community what it thinks, countless hours and large sums of money have been spent on a plan that the community feels does not meet its needs. This is a community project. Funds donated by the community will be used for the expansion. It’s time for the community to get involved.

My recommendations are:

  • Dissolve the current Expansion Committee.
  • Set up another Expansion Committee with members of the community who understand the needs of the community as well as members who have specialized knowledge in construction, such as engineers, architects, project planners, purchasing agents, financial advisers, etc. Start from scratch and develop a plan that actually meets the needs of the community and can be completed and paid for in a couple of years.

What do you think?

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mohammad S. Mazhar on March 27, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    To end this bickering, I suggest the President call a general body meeting, with plenty of advance notice (2-3 weeks) and with the SOLE agenda of the following questions:
    1. Does the IAGD membership want any expansion? If so, what sort — completing the 2001 expansion; the current plans; or some alternate plan?
    2. What is the maximum cost members are willing/able to pay for an expansion?
    After answering these questions, the BOD should use that input to direct future plans.

    In my opinion, giving the community an opportunity to vote on the project and would help everyone feel part of the project and not just observers. For this general body meeting we should use last year’s membership list. This will avoid fake membership — people who join now, just to vote for/against the project and have no sustained interest in the community.

    Reply

  2. Posted by S.H. on March 27, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Yes, I totally agree. The community should be able to vote on such a big decision. This is not the time to get into building a structure that will be used fully on rare occasions. I’m sure there are alternate building plans with lower costs. May Allah keep us united through all this!!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Yousuf S on March 29, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    I think this is an excellent idea. The IAGD Board should not find anything objectionable about this proposal. I agree that using last year’s membership list is very fair to all concerned. Let us have a meeting where members and the Board know and behave that they are all on the same side, and not adversaries, and do that in a respectful manner. We are all in favor of a strong community, not a divided one, and a wonderful masjid/center/school/social venue/gym which is planned with efficiency and based on reality (financial and otherwise).

    Reply

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