The Islamic Society of Milwaukee wants to build a mosque in Brookfield for its west suburban members, with hopes to eventually expand the facility to serve about 350 congregants.
Local Muslim leaders say they have outgrown their Milwaukee location and want to create a more convenient location for Waukesha County area families. The congregation size at the society's 4707 S. 13th St. location has grown from 600 people in 1999 to more than 1,500 on a weekly basis, according to documents filed with the city.
About 75 to 100 Muslim families live within a 10-mile radius of the proposed Brookfield mosque site, the documents say.
For the past decade, some west-side members have been meeting and praying at various sites in Waukesha County, including Waukesha Memorial Hospital where Friday afternoon prayers have been held since 2008.
But the proposed Brookfield mosque already has drawn concerns about traffic and religious extremists, according to a Today's TMJ4 report that drew more than 160 comments on the station's Facebook page. Most of the comments were supportive of the mosque and the Muslim community.
Phone calls to Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Jeff Wagner show Wednesday afternoon were mixed, with some raising concerns about traffic and Islamic teaching and others saying it should be treated no differently and welcomed like any other religious institution seeking to build a worship facility. (The mosque issue starts at 20 minutes into the podcast.)
The society purchased two lots totalling about four acres in Brookfield starting in 2009 and have been working with city officials since on its plans to build a mosque at 16650 and 16730 W. Pheasant Dr., a short distance northeast of the Calhoun Road-North Avenue intersection. The largely vacant site formerly housed Sanders C & Sons Welding.
After city officials raised concerns about the amount of traffic on Calhoun Road, the society reduced the size of its proposed facility to 12,950 square feet, according to a project overview on the society's website. However, the Islamic society hopes to expand the facility in a future second phase — after Calhoun Road is widened from two to four lanes — to add about 10,000 square feet to accommodate about 350 worshippers versus the 114 occupancy proposed in phase one.
Calhoun Road is not likely to be widened for more than a decade, City Engineer Jeff Chase told Patch Wednesday.
"We're probably 10 to 15 years away from the bulldozers coming out there," Chase said.
The city's five-year capital improvement budget proposes these annual borrowings to fund the Calhoun Road widening: $450,000 in each of 2014 and 2015, $2.3 million in 2016 and $2.85 million beyond the five-year plan.
But Chase said the most likely source of funding for the project — federal transportation grants — have been reduced due to spending on other projects.
Traffic was an issue raised at a city Plan Commission meeting Monday as commissioners voted to schedule a public hearing on the society's request for a conditional use permit. The land is zoned for industrial uses, and a conditional use permit is required to build the mosque there.
A public hearing may not be held until April or May. If the project is ultimately approved, the goal is to complete it by June 2013.
Project documents indicate $206,000 has been raised toward the estimated $1.5 million mosque construction. Another $63,000 has been pledged, plus $250,000 committed by the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. Fundraising would cover the remaining project costs.
The society is working with Craig Donze, of One Source Consulting, whose wife Jennifer Donze is a former member of the Brookfield Plan Commission, as well as landscaping architects at Brookfield-based R.A. Smith National. One of the project's leaders is Mushir Hassan, a physician who lives and works in Brookfield.
The city plans to hold an informational meeting with neighbors of the proposed mosque prior to a formal public hearing before the city Plan Commission.