Islamic food council given final approval to open Maine Township community center
An artist's rendering of what the Sabeel Center, 8800 W. Ballard Road, will look like when renovations are completed.
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:12PM
MAINE TOWNSHIP—An Islamic dietary organization has been granted permission by the Cook County Board to open a community center in unincorporated Maine Township.
County commissioners on Sept. 10 approved a special-use permit for the Sabeel Center, 8800 W. Ballard Rd., which will be operated by the Park Ridge-based Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America.
Plans call for the building to operate as a community center with an educational component related to IFANCA’s work of certifying food as halal, or conforming with Islamic dietary laws. There will also be a gathering space, library and kitchen for cooking demonstrations to teach the public about halal preparation.
Though the center will serve as a gathering place for area Muslims, there will also be a focus on outreach to the greater community, said Richard Reeder, spokesperson for IFANCA.
“We’re viewing this as an asset,” he said of the Sabeel Center. “It’s basically a learning center for the entire community.”
Area educators, of both public and private schools, have already expressed interest in the center and the concept of halal, Reeder added.
“It’s really an exciting opportunity for everyone to learn from each other,” he said.
IFANCA is planning approximately $1.5 million in improvements to the facility which borders Park Ridge and was last used as a synagogue. Reeder said now that the special-use has been secured the organization will begin moving forward on renovations with “full programming” possibly beginning next spring.
During meetings before the Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals and the Maine Township Plan Commission earlier this year a small number of residents expressed concerns about the potential for crowds, congestion, noise and hours of operation.
The center, according to IFANCA President Muhammad Chaudry, will be open no longer than 9 p.m. and is not expected to generate large gatherings on a regular basis.