A recent visit to the site, near the intersection of Nicolas Road and Calle Medusa in Temecula’s Nicolas Valley, revealed the wooden shell of a building that will eventually become a 4,157-square-foot multipurpose room for the center’s 150 families.
In the second phase of the project, that room will become classroom space for an almost 25,000-square-foot “masjid,” or mosque, that includes an indoor waterfall, a minaret and other customary architectural cues.
In spring 2013, center officials said they needed around $500,000 to finish the first phase of the two-part project, and the center’s members have been raising money since. On March 7, there was a fundraising dinner at the center’s Murrieta headquarters, the first of 2015.
Omar Ali, a member of the center’s board of directors, said Thursday the members will continue raising money and donating what they can to finish the project, which could be complete before the end of the year.
“Hopefully, hopefully, hopefully; by the grace of God,” he said. The plans for the building were approved in 2011 but it has taken the center years to raise the money to shore up the hillside to the west side of the mosque property and parking lot and build the foundation for the structure.
Armando Villa, director of Temecula’s community services department, and Thomas Garcia, director of public works, said the pace of construction has been slow, in part, because of how the center has divvied up responsibility for construction, such as appointing different members of the center to serve as project managers in a sort of rotation system. The center also has used volunteer labor to help build the structure.
Ali said members of the local Muslim community, in an effort to save money, have picked up hammers and helped carry materials to get the structure built. Their work has been supervised by an on-site foreman.
“You follow the plan. You don’t go Mickey Mouse. You do whatever it takes to do it,” Ali said.
The center introduced the Temecula mosque project in 2010, around the same time there was national controversy regarding an Islamic center proposed for a building near Ground Zero of the 2001 terror attack in New York.The timing inflamed passions in the southwest Riverside County region.
The local debate, which was mirrored somewhat by a fight against a mosque in Tennessee, turned into national news after area residents staged a protest at the center’s old Temecula headquarters.
The center eventually vacated that spot in Temecula in favor of a Murrieta business park near the BMW and Volkswagen dealerships. In early 2011, the Temecula City Council approved the mosque project by dismissing an appeal of the Planning Commission’s vote in favor of it.
The appeal was filed by area residents who didn’t think the city did a thorough job studying how the project would affect traffic in the area, which includes a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witness and Baptist and Presbyterian churches near that same corner of Calle Medusa and Nicolas.
Others opposed the project because they sought to stop the spread of Sharia, or Islamic law, in the U.S. Supporters included the local interfaith council and Temecula residents who said the opposition, which included people from Murrieta and Wildomar, didn’t reflect the spirit of their city.