Around 2:30pm on May 6th, Lou Barletta was seen posing for a photo on the steps of the Irem Temple Mosque on Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre. A city chamber employee related that Barletta was there to see about options for saving the building, presumably with federal money.
According to a 2007 Times Leader article, the mosque building is owned by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Development Corp., an arm of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, which has solicited bids to repair and "stabilize" the mosque.
However, a Shriner insignia bumper-sticker on the back of a nearby parked SUV, and the fact that the Irem Temple operates a website covering the history of the mosque building provides ample evidence that the masons (or whoever) have a significant interest in the renovation of the property.
Giving federal money for this old building that is predominantly appreciated by a private affluent club and political insiders is immoral and doesn't even garner a "welfare for the poor" socialistic justification. Moreover, the budget crisis attests that federal money ought to be too tight for such recreational upkeep.
Here's an idea. Sell the building. But, if the chamber tries to sell the building, it will clamor for more money anyway in order to prep it for sale.
Supposing they can sell the building without gobbling up beaucoup d' tax dollars for "stabilization" beforehand, then maybe they can sell it to the many robed Mohammedans in the area, who probably would take a mock mosque over no mosque at all. On the downside, Mohammedan owners may get the idea from the minarets to drone out their calls to prayer, which would make for an odd scene at nearby King's College--with the college's hourly bells tolls accompanied by Islamic droning in the background. It would be an Interfaith cacophony--in addition to proverbial Interfaith cacophonies already reverberating throughout the college.
Regardless, the mosque building should receive no federal money, and the City of Wilkes-Barre along with the chamber are misguided to seek such funds when the road the mosque sits on, Franklin Street, is a gauntlet of bumps and pot holes like many other roads in Wilkes-Barre.
If you don't want a sequel to the Hotel Sterling debacle, then contact Lou Barletta and tell him not to graft or earmark money for the building.