A 5-foot long piece of debris believed to be from one of the planes involved in the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 was found wedged between two nearby buildings, including the site of a proposed mosque and community center that was slammed by conservatives.
WNBC-TV reported that the piece of landing gear, which bears a stamp from the parts manufacturer Boeing and a serial number, was found while surveyers were inspecting the back of the building at 51 Park Place, which was where the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" was proposed for construction. The debris was wedged between the rear of the Park Place building and a building at 50 Murray St.
New York Police Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said the department had secured the area "as if it were a crime scene" and begun examining it while the local Medical Examiner's office did a health and safety inspection.
"They're probably, I'm gonna say, feet apart," Browne said of the two buildings in an interview with WCBS-AM. "You could step across the state. But the aircraft landing gear part of it is significant in size - maybe 3 x 5 feet, something like that, so it has to accomodate something that big. But it's not like a large backyard type of space. It's relatively narrow, and because it's wedged, it didn't go down to the ground. It would explain why it escaped attention for more than a decade."
The site at Park Place, originally proposed as a community center in 2010, was targeted by conservatives who called it the "second wave" of the 9/11 attacks, a line of attack rejected by the developer, Sharif El-Gamal.
"It is not a mosque, nor is it on Ground Zero," he wrote in a newspaper column in April 2011. "Park51, which is the name of the project, is first and foremost an Islamic community center, modeled after the Jewish Community Center on the upper West Side. When completed, the center will contain a gym, a pool, a pre-K, a daycare facility, an amphitheater, a culinary institute, a 9/11 memorial and more. There will be a separate prayer space for the Muslim community living and working downtown."
A September 2010 survey found that 80 percent of New Yorkers agreed that there was a legal right for the center to be built, though 67 percent of respondents felt it should be moved away from the site of the attack.
Watch WPIX-TV's report on the discovery of the debris, aired Friday, below.