Closed-door Silly Market talks held at City Hall
October 12, 2012
High-ranking City Hall officials held a closed-door meeting with the organizers of the Park Silly Sunday Market on Thursday in what was an important round of talks as the two sides continue their attempt to reach an accord before a mid-November deadline.
The City Hall side released limited information about the meeting. The leader of the Silly Market did not return repeated phone messages seeking comment. The lockdown on information from the meeting is indicative of the tensions that surround the discussions between the two sides.
Mayor Dana Williams, who was among the City Hall officials present at the Marsac Building meeting, said the talks lasted 90 minutes. He said himself and unnamed City Hall staffers represented the municipal government. Kimberly Kuehn, the executive director of the Silly Market, and members of the Silly Market’s board of directors negotiated on their side’s behalf, the mayor said.
Williams declined to discuss details about the meeting. He said, though, he was "very" confident an agreement will be reached that returns the Silly Market to Main Street in 2013.
City Hall has justified the closed-door nature of discussions thus far by arguing they are contract negotiations. The meetings have not involved a quorum of the Park City Council, thus removing the requirement that they be formally posted with times and locations even if they are closed to the public.
It is unlikely that officials will release detailed information until shortly before an agreement is brought to the full City Council for approval, if one is negotiated. Details about pending business before the City Council often are not released until the week of a vote.
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The Silly Market, centered on lower Main Street in the summer and early fall, has a contract with City Hall that covered the 2010, 2011 and 2012 editions. The contract includes two option periods of two years apiece. Either the Silly Market or City Hall must provide written notice by Nov. 15 if they do not intend to exercise the option.
It is not known with certainty what points are under discussion between the two negotiating teams. Topics that have been broached in some fashion and could be part of the talks include the operating times of the Silly Market and the number of Sundays it is open. The Silly Market side, though, is unlikely to be willing to agree to a major shift in either.
The Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents businesses on or close to Main Street, was not asked to participate in the Thursday meeting. The group is closely following the discussions, however. Alison Butz, the executive director, said she hopes she is briefed by City Hall prior to an agreement being brought to the City Council in an open setting for the first time. The alliance hopes for a package of changes to the operations.
There have been ongoing complaints about the Silly Market’s effects on the brick-and-mortar businesses on Main Street, particularly those on the upper reaches of the street. The Silly Market organizers have made operational changes like locating some of the activities on the upper section of Main Street, but concerns have continued.