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Plans for new Sikh temple in Richmond Hill unveiled

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Plans for the reconstruction of the Sikh gurdwara, or temple, in Richmond Hill have been finalized and are ready to be presented to the city, the organization's president said Friday.

Harpreet Singh Toor, president of the Sikh Cultural Society, said trustees and officers for the society have completed plans for an 85,000-square-foot building at 95-30 118th St. to replace the old 30,000-square-foot building that burned down in March 2002.

"It will be a long process and it is going to take time," Toor said. "We will probably make changes as we go along."

Toor said the plans, produced by Chicago-based architect Amarjit Singh Sidhu, call for a five-story building that will have a kitchen, several dining halls, an auditorium and bathrooms. He said the auditorium on the second floor will seat 200 to 250 people, while the three dining halls will seat several hundred people and be about 1,800 square feet each.

He also said the basement will be used for storage. The plans include space for a walk-in information center, where those interested in materials on the Sikh religion can get literature on the faith, he said.

"We intend to submit the plans within the next two weeks," he said. "Construction will start when we get the OK from the city Buildings Department."

Toor said the society has constructed a small-scale model of the gurdwara, which is on display in the temporary home of the society, and anyone can go in to see the proposed reconstruction.

The Sikh Cultural Society is the largest and oldest temple on the East Coast. The fire in March last year left one person in critical condition and injured several others.

More than 145 firefighters fought the three-alarm blaze that completely destroyed the temple, several bedrooms, a 15,000-book library, a computer lab and a large kitchen that served meals to thousands of people each weekend.

Toor said the Fire Department has yet to file a report on the cause or source of the fire.

There are eight gurdwaras throughout Queens, serving more than 50,000 Sikhs.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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