High-stakes City Hall-Silly Market meeting scheduled next week
October 5, 2012
A high-stakes meeting about the future of the Park Silly Sunday Market is scheduled between City Hall officials and market organizers next week, a round of talks that could set a tone as the two sides creep closer to a mid-November deadline for an accord.
The meeting is private. Kimberly Kuehn, the executive director of the Silly Market and one of its founders, said the meeting is scheduled at the Marsac Building on Tuesday. She said herself and an attorney will represent the Silly Market.
Top-level City Hall staffers like Interim Park City Manager Diane Foster and Jonathan Weidenhamer, who manages economic development programs for the municipal government, will likely be involved. It is not clear if any elected officials will take part. Foster acknowledged there is a meeting set but mentioned a different day than Kuehn.
Alison Butz, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, said the organization had not been asked to participate in the meeting. The alliance, which represents businesses on or close to Main Street, is closely monitoring the negotiations and will almost certainly have some influence if an agreement is crafted.
The Tuesday meeting will follow a closed-door meeting on Thursday by Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council during which the Silly Market could have been addressed. Williams said afterward he would not confirm nor deny the Silly Market was discussed during the closed session but said he likes the event and wants it to continue.
Kuehn said a City Hall staffer had told her the Silly Market was one of the topics that was supposed to be discussed.
"I have a lot of confidence in the city about stepping up for the rights of the Silly Market. We are a community market," Kuehn said, adding, "I think the city knows the value of the market . . . If they don’t, it’s pretty upsetting."
Kuehn repeated previous statements that she anticipates an agreement will be reached keeping the Silly Market on Main Street.
City Hall and the Silly Market had a contract covering the 2010, 2011 and 2012 editions. The deal includes two option periods of two years apiece. Either side must provide written notice by Nov. 15 if they do not plan to exercise the option, leaving six weeks for an agreement to be crafted.
The Silly Market, with its eclectic mix of vendor tents, food sellers and entertainment, sets up on lower Main Street on Sundays during the summer and fall. There have been long-running complaints from some brick-and-mortar businesses along Main Street, especially those south of Heber Avenue, that the Silly Market has siphoned away business.
The Silly Market, in an effort to attract crowds up Main Street, has located some of its activities and a farmers market uphill from Heber Avenue. The results have been mixed, critics say.
It seems certain that Main Street will submit a list of operational changes it desires if an agreement is reached between the Silly Market and City Hall. Details have not been publicized, though. Main Street could address points like the frequency of the Silly Market and its opening and closing times on Sundays.