Anderson's Four-Step Proposal on Plaza Issue Faces Opposition

Anderson's Four-Step Proposal on Plaza Issue Faces Opposition

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The mayor calls for a compromise, but his latest proposal to resolve the dispute over the Main Street Plaza looks like it, too, is headed for a dead end.

"No one gets 100 percent of what they want," says Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.

The mayor's proposal aims at severely limiting the possibility of public disturbance on the plaza, but it does not give complete control over the street to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And because of that, it seems to be drawing mixed reviews.

Simply stated, the mayor's plan gives the LDS Church 90 percent of the easement on the Main Street Plaza.

But he also proposed that the sidewalk farthest from Temple Square be a public easement, which includes group gathering areas where protests would be allowed.

But tonight, the LDS Church says, no deal.

Optimists might see the mayor's annoucment as an opening to resolve the bruising fight over Main Street.

But the reality is, tonight there's no compromise.

Anderson began his much-awaited proposal by praising the "spirit of generosity" of the LDS Church, and offering an olive branch.

"These have been an incredibly difficult six weeks, with much misunderstanding and far too much divisiveness. For any role I have played in that, I apologize," Anderson says.

He says the original deal between the city and the LDS Church never specifically defined what the "easement" is.

So he proposes a walkway about the size of a normal sidewalk along the entire east side of the plaza.

"With the definition of the easement, the Church of Jesus Christ will have free and clear title to the vast majority of the plaza, approximately 90 percent, and will have the ability to regulate conduct just as any private property owner would on its own property," Anderson says.

On the north and south ends of the easement, the mayor proposes small protest zones where groups can gather. People could still pass out literature in the rest of the plaza, as long as they abide by noise and disturbance regulations.

Anderson believes his plan gives both the city and the LDS Church almost all of what they bargained for back in 1999, when the deal was made.

After hearing the mayor's proposal, the two primary antagonists had decidely different reactions.

"I'm confident that through the public process, it's possible to end up with regulations that everyone can agree on. I'm afraid we're headed back to court," says Stephen Clark, attorney for the ACLU.

"The city has a legitimate expectation that the public has a right to enter the property and pass over it and make use of it. We don't think the parties intended for there to be protesters, hecklers. The deal would not have gone forward if that had not been the case," says Alan Sullivan, attorney for the LDS Church.

On Tuesday, a meeting will be held by the Salt Lake City Council, designed to explore the original intent of the parties in the deal.

Then there will be a chance for the public to weigh in. That date is Tuesday, December 17.

There has also been a lot of discussion behind the scenes about the plaza between the mayor and LDS Church leaders.

KSL interviewed the man who has been the go-between for both parties, Utah businessman Jon Huntsman Sr.

Anderson and Huntsman have been friends for a long time, and have worked on various projects together.

For the past week or so, Huntsman has been going back and forth between the mayor's office and the LDS Church Office Building, playing the role of "mediator."

This afternoon, he attended a meeting with the LDS Church First Presidency, then met with Mayor Anderson before the mayor held his news conference.

Huntsman declined an on-camera interview, but he told the Deseret News that he's been working almost around the clock trying to come up with a resolution.

He is optimistic, telling newspaper reporters, "We're going to work this thing through and it's going to work out fine for everybody."

Huntsman did tell us that both sides had made some concessions, but for now, there is still no conclusion to the dilemma. No word either on whether Mr. Huntsman has more meetings planned.

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