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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended November 10, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 08Nov00

By Kent Larsen

Court Filings In; Main Street Trial Set For February

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The ACLU's challenge to the April 1999 sale of a one-block section of Main Street by Salt Lake City to the LDS Church is scheduled to go to trial in February. However, all three parties had until this past Friday to file motions in the case. The result was a mountain of paper for US District Judge Ted Stewart to wade through, including a poem and a video tape from the ACLU.

The filings made by the LDS Church and by Salt Lake City included copies of old and new master plans, meeting transcripts, renderings, traffic studies and affidavits. The ACLU's filing included similar material, but also added the poem "Main Street" by Joyce Kilmer along with a videotape of the poem. The ACLU's Stephen Clark included the material to make the point that the block was more than just a street. "Main Street connotes something special in Americana. It is the subject of art and literature and other musings on what it means to live in a community. This is about more than the sale of a piece of property. It's a betrayal of a symbol."

Clark's materials argue that the whole plaza ought to be open to the public, just like the city's sidewalks. "Spaces like that, that have the form and function of a traditional sidewalk, are protected by the First Amendment." He goes on to to say, "If something looks and functions as a sidewalk, it has to be protected like a sidewalk."

The ACLU's argument isn't so much against the sale of the block itself, as the restrictions placed on citizens there in the course of the sale. A public easment granted as part of the sale restricts the use of alcohol and tobacco on the property and bans "loitering, assembling, partying, demonstrating, picketing" and engaging in any "illegal, offensive, indecent, obscene, vulgar or disorderly speech, dress or conduct."

But city attorney Roger Cutler sees the issue differently. He says that the sale and construction of the plaza has changed its character, so that it no longer functions like a sidewalk. "Although public access across the Main Street property was preserved, the entire character, appearance, function and use of the property has changed completely from its prior use." Cutler also points out that the city has 1,730 miles of streets and 853 acres of park that can serve as alternative public forums.


Last-Minute Motions in Plaza Suit Include Poem
Salt Lake Tribune 4Nov00 N1
By Rebecca Walsh: Salt Lake Tribune
Court handling Main Street sale gets verse, video from ACLU, reams of paper from LDS Church and city Saturday, November 4, 2000


ACLU zeroes in on sidewalks of LDS plaza
Deseret News 4Nov00 N1
By Maria Titze: Deseret News staff writer
Such spaces protected by Bill of Rights, brief says


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