Buddhist temple proposed for Gilbert; would be town's first

by Parker Leavitt, The Arizona Republic, Jun. 16, 2010

Gilbert, AZ (USA) -- About 10 years ago, an overstressed stockbroker in New York City gave up her high-pressure job and opted for the serene life of a Buddhist nun.

Now, five years after Sister Thich Nu Le Ngo, 37, moved into a Vietnamese temple in Mesa, she's leading an effort to bring Gilbert its first Buddhist temple.

The Buddhist Association of Arizona, currently near Crismon and Broadway roads in Mesa, wants to build a temple on an acre lot near Gilbert Road and Harrison Street.

The temple would feature traditional Southeast Asian architecture with a tiered roof and red stone columns, according to plans presented to the Design Review Board last week.

It would include 2,300 square feet of meeting space, where followers can gather to practice Zen mediation or chant and pray. There would also be two bedrooms and additional living space for two nuns and a monk.

Ngo would be among the three Buddhist clergy members living on-site.

"It means a lot to the Buddhist lay people who come here, too," Ngo said. "As refugees in an adopted country, we leave a lot behind in Vietnam. It (the temple) reminds them of some of the temples in their home country."

The Asian-American population has been among the fastest-growing demographic groups in the Valley, census worker Albert Lin said. Census figures show the Asian-American population in Arizona climbed 76 percent between 2000 and 2008.

That includes many Vietnamese-Americans who are moving to escape poor economic conditions in California, Ngo says.

Many of the followers who visit the temple in Mesa live in Gilbert and are enthusiastically, if not impatiently, awaiting the opening of a temple in Gilbert, Ngo said.

But the group is worried about what kind of reception the temple will get from its new neighbors. A few nearby residents have welcomed the proposal, and Ngo hopes others in the community approve of the temple's distinct architecture.

"Gilbert is a really nice place to build a temple, being surrounded by wholesome families," Ngo said. "We reaffirm the family values that the community already has."

Pending approval from the Design Review Board, Ngo said the group would like to begin construction this winter and finish within a year.

Construction will be funded primarily through contributions from supporters, but the group also offers baby-sitting services to help pay its bills, Ngo said.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/06/16/20100616gilbert-buddhist-temple.html#ixzz0r5MBEteJ