Will Salt Lake City's Main Street Plaza debate be replayed at City Creek?

If the ongoing dispute over Main Street Plaza is any indication, former Mayor Rocky Anderson sees a future of First Amendment battles brewing in downtown Salt Lake City.

In 2003, Anderson helped broker a deal to sell the public easement on the one-block stretch of Main Street to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in an effort to quell "one of the most divisive episodes in our city's history," he said. But as the church continues to reshape the capital's core through the multibillion-dollar City Creek Center project, Anderson and American Civil Liberties Union attorney Stephen Clark worry about another set of free-speech problems on the horizon.

"There are going to continue to be episodes where people's conduct runs afoul of church standards, and the city is going to have to deal with (whether to) prosecute," said Clark, who successfully litigated a case against the city following the plaza's sale in 1999.

During a discussion at the S.J. Quinney College of Law on Thursday, Anderson and Clark offered an inside look at the contentious sale and the lawsuits that followed and hypothesized about the potential for future problems with the LDS Church taking such a major role in downtown's redevelopment.

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