Battle Rages Over Sale of Branford Place Mosque in Newark
The sale of a mosque on Branford Place in Newark by the Islamic Society of Essex County will be protested again on Saturday as it has been for weeks.
The worshippers say they not only weren’t consulted on the sale but didn’t even know it was planned. They also say the sale is a violation of the mosque’s bylaws.
Saad Admani, a member of the congregation and a student at Rutgers Law School, also claimed there are conflicts here. “The real estate broker on Branford Place and Hill Street is a former board member of the Society,” he said, “and so there’s many conflicts of interest.”
Hill Street, across from City Hall, is the location of one of the buildings the Society bought after the sale. It said that will be the new home for the mosque when the pandemic allows.
The Society says the properties on Branford Place and Hill Street were listed on the multiple listing service and under New Jersey’s nonprofit law it has the authority to buy and sell assets.
Admani cited a lack of transparency by the Society in the whole process. “They haven’t been transparent at all,” he said. “There was never one public meeting to get the community’s approval, and if this deal is so good for the community then why didn’t they present it and why are they still hiding documents? Admani said they had to go to court to get some of those documents unsealed.
The Society would not comment beyond a Jan. 2 press release, where it called the Hill Street building a “significant upgrade” from its previous home.
Admani said the deal amounts to exchanging one “dilapidated” building for another. “They argue in court, they argue in their press release, that this building on Branford Place is in need of repairs, they cannot maintain it,” he said, “and on the other hand they’re buying four dilapidated buildings. So the question is are they mosque trustees or are they developers?”
The Society calls the building on Hill Street upgraded and well maintained.