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Slide sparks clash

Profile image for By Bj Lewis
By Bj Lewis

Emails show dispute between community market, county officials

Denton County officials and representatives of Denton Community Market butted heads this week over a planned water slide for today’s market event.

Emails between the county and the market this week show that a dispute over a water slide at the community market led to threats of trespassing complaints and differing interpretations of permit language, and left market officials questioning how to be sure they are abiding by their permit agreement with the county.

“Denton Community Market for several years had a lease for the space. The past two years, instead of a lease, we have been granted a building use permit. Everything has been pretty good for the most part,” said Sara Bagheri, attorney and spokeswoman for the market. “It came to someone’s attention we have this inflatable water slide for the kids. [Denton County] Judge [Mary] Horn was really not pleased with that and does not think it’s included in our building use permit. I don’t think it is excluded.”

The community market, a local arts and produce market, is held on Saturdays at Denton County Historical Park. The county owns the property.

Horn said there was no mention of the water slide in the building use request and that her first concern was liability for those who attend the market. Another concern was the placement of the slide and the water to be used for it, she said.

“We don’t want a bunch of water on the landscape,” Horn said. “We just put in a lot of time, effort and money to do a lot of landscaping around the gazebo, and we don’t want to put a lot of water there even if we do have insurance.”

As emails were exchanged this week, Horn said she saw that the community market was still promoting the water slide on its Facebook page. So she had Moira Schilke, assistant district attorney in the civil division, send documentation to the community market reiterating that the slide was not permitted.

“This isn’t like a contract. This is a building use request for identified purposes, and this is not an identified purpose,” Horn said.

The slide will not be permitted until there is time to address things like the placement, water usage and insurance coverage, Horn said.

“I don’t want anyone hurt or financially [impacted] — not the county or the community market,” she said. “They’re not very happy with me for saying ‘no,’ but I am sorry. They need to be more concerned about liability.”

Bagheri, the community market’s attorney, said her present task is to figure out the process for determining when something is allowed or disallowed.

“Building use says we can use the space for the community market and the activities around it, and we consider this one of the activities,” she said. “We had it last year. We’re definitely not trying to deceive anybody.”

The water slide will be up and running near the community market.

Market officials have been working with the city of Denton, which will allow the slide to be erected on city property on Sycamore Street.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.