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Call it a little bit of Manti.
The central Utah town known for its hilltop temple and the annual "Mormon Miracle Pageant" is considering selling one block of 400 North Street between 200 East and 300 East to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It's not exactly like Salt Lake City's imbroglio over the sale of a block of Main Street to the LDS Church in 1999 that proponents said would transform the right of way between South Temple and North Temple streets into a "little bit of Paris."
Rather than the $8.1 million Salt Lake City got in its deal, Manti is looking at a more modest $110,000. And the street in question is not the town's main drag.
But like the "little bit of Paris" debate, the proposed Manti sale has raised questions surrounding freedom of speech.
The American Civil Liberties Union has warned the Manti City Council not to act in haste.
"As you may be aware, the ACLU of Utah has litigated these issues in the past," wrote legal director Darcy Goddard to the council. "We are happy to meet with you at any time to discuss the important First Amendment rights at stake."
The dead-end block in Manti has long been a gathering place for protestors and others during the two weeks in June when the LDS Church hosts the pageant on the nearby temple lawn.
But stifling protests is not the intent of the sale, said Mayor Natasha Madsen. It was the city that approached the church in hope of selling the right of way, she explained.
"I'm a great believer in freedom of speech," she said. "I have no problem with protesters."
All the real estate on the block is owned by the LDS Church, she noted. The city no longer wanted to maintain a drive that accesses only church-owned buildings.
"I feel strongly that if the church owns the ground, there will be enhancements and it will be a positive thing for Manti," she said.
She added that the sale of the block would leave a lot of public space nearby for protesters and others.
A spokesman for the LDS Church confirmed it was the city that broached the sale.
"The church and city are currently in discussions to determine the viability of moving forward with a sale," said Scott Trotter.
The proposal was the topic of a City Council public hearing last week.
Among those present was Ephraim resident Daniel Thompson, who said he did not favor the sale.
"If the street is sold without any exceptions, we believe the LDS church would restrict speech on that property," he said.
There are some protesters who gather on the street, Thompson conceded. But there are many more who come, he said, to discuss religion.
"People come from all over the country to enter religious discussion," he said. "The street literally fills up with people who are there for religious dialogue."
The council has not scheduled the matter for action. Madsen said it most likely won't appear on the city's agenda for six to eight weeks.