Eagle ponders logistics of Bryant press swarm
With Oct. 9 looming as the next date in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case, town and county officials are trying to find ways to accommodate the media hordes.
For the Aug. 6 hearing, the town allowed TV crews to set up camera platforms on the town right-of-way between the sidewalk and the street on the south side of Chambers Avenue across from the Eagle County Justice Center. That arrangement created some problems, particularly because people associated with the TV crews were often standing in the middle of what is normally a fairly busy street.
To cut down on that and other potential hazards, the town won’t allow platforms on the right-of-way for the next hearing. That leaves a problem with where to park trucks and allow platforms.
At the moment, the lot across from the Justice Center owned by the Gallegos Corp. is the most likely spot to put the crowds. But the Gallegos Corp., which allowed trucks free parking in the lot for the Aug. 6 hearing, will begin charging rent as of Bryant’s next court date. Gallegos initially indicated to the county it wants a rental fee of $1,000 per day.
Town officials are strategizing how to manage the property so several crews can have access to the lot. However, cost is an issue, and Eagle Town Board members last week insisted that the county and the 5th Judicial District help in trying to rent the property. Another option is for a coalition of news agencies to pay those costs.
Town Trustee Tom Ehrenberg questioned whether the private sector shouldn’t just handle the whole affair. Fellow board members noted that in that event, one media company could rent the whole lot to deny competitors access, which would create more problems.
The problem, though, is just when to rent the property and for how long. Town Attorney Ed Sands noted that while Oct. 9 is the current date for the preliminary hearing, that date could change. Attorneys for Bryant have filed a motion to prohibit cameras in the courtroom. Hearings on that motion, as well as others that might be filed, could delay the date for the preliminary hearing.
Town Manager Willy Powell said he and county officials are still talking about how to handle the matter.
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.
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