Should We Agree to Disagree?

by Ann O’Brien Ahmad

ASAK. In the past week or so, a couple of people have commented on this blog that the expansion process is so far along that maybe it is time to just agree to disagree and move on. These comments caused me to stop and ponder this for a few days.

Some things aren’t even worth disagreeing about because they aren’t that important. If a decision is made to paint the social hall pale green and I hate the color green, it’s not the end of the world. But the issues involved here will have a huge impact on how the organization utilizes its resources for years to come.

A conceptual drawing of this expansion plan was presented to the community in 2008. Despite working on the plan for almost three years, Plan E is essentially the same as that conceptual drawing. A wall was moved some here, the square footage was increased a little bit there, but essentially it is the same plan. Since 2008, nothing much changed in the plan, yet the community and the economy changed tremendously.

The country has undergone the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. While the government now tells us everything is just fine, it certainly doesn’t feel that way to most people. Our home values have decreased substantially. Personal investment values have decreased substantially. Many people in this community have been forced into early retirement or lost their jobs and are either still without a job or have taken a job paying substantially less. Approximately 23% of the U.S. population is underemployed today. I don’t know about you, but I am much more cautious with my money now than I was in 2008. I am trying to downsize and eliminate expenses so that I will be fine when the next economic downturn arrives.

And I believe the community is now voicing similar concerns. Why do we need such a large prayer area? Why do we need huge lobbies that won’t be adequately used? Why are we building a basement? Why are we spending so much? Where will the rest of the money come from? Why don’t we focus on the school?

The IAGD Administration has made no attempt to address the concerns of the community. I understand that we all can’t agree on everything, but this isn’t about the small details. If the community has reasonable concerns, what’s wrong with finding ways to compromise and adjust the plan to deal with those concerns?

Not everyone has a problem with turning the current prayer hall into a social hall. But a significant portion of the community does have a problem with this, so what’s wrong with finding a design that leaves the prayer hall as a prayer hall? (Plan H and Option 2 leave the current prayer hall as a prayer hall.)

Not everyone cares about the Islamic school. But a significant portion of the community, especially the young families, wants to see the Islamic school become a priority at IAGD. If our resources are devoted to building a prayer hall over the next several years, when will the school become a priority? (Plan H, Option 1, and Option 2 would be completed in only two years, so that the school could then become a priority.)

Not everyone thinks the lobbies and gathering spaces are too large in the current plan. But a significant portion of the community thinks it is wasted space, so what’s wrong with compromising and reducing (not totally eliminating) the space, which in turn reduces the cost and annual operating expenses?

Not everyone believes that the basement is wasted space. But a large portion of the community points out that we already have a basement, so why are we spending $1.5 million on an area that will likely not be used much? What’s wrong with eliminating the basement?

Not everyone has a problem with spending $6.9 million to $7.5 million or more for the current expansion. But a significant portion of the community believes, with only $3.0 million on hand after 10 years of fundraising, that this is way too much to spend at this time. If we can accomplish the same objectives for $5 million and finish the plan in two years, what’s wrong with spending less time and money? Couldn’t we use the money saved for other programs?

Why is the IAGD Administration digging in its heels and refusing to even discuss these possibilities? Why can’t we sit down as a community and honestly discuss whether there are ways to incorporate some of the community’s concerns into the current plan? I understand that the IAGD Administration may be tired of the process, but we are going to live with this building for decades. Shouldn’t we take a few extra months and make sure we are addressing the community’s concerns? We all won’t agree on everything, but at least we will have come together as a community to develop an expansion that deals with the needs of the entire community.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Yousuf S on August 30, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Well said. I hope the board sees the response of the community, and the signatures of the members, and opens up the discussion. We all want what’s good for IAGD, and for the community. It’s NOT personal, and it’s NOT us vs the board. Praying for good sense and guidance for all. Ameen.


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