Brawl raises questions about community center policies

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DAYTON - A recent brawl has highlighted residents' concerns over a lack of monitoring during social events at the Dayton Community Center.

Lyon County Park, Recreation and Grounds Supervisor Jannette Hoffert said Monday the Saturday night melee was the second time in several months police have been needed at a community center function - both involving celebration of the "coming of age" of teens.

Saturday's incident involved about 50 combatants. Officers from Storey County and Carson City were called in to help Lyon County deputies quell the fight.

"We definitely need to make changes. We have to protect that building. It is an historic building and is not replaceable," she noted. "Luckily, the brawl was outside and no damage occurred inside."

Hoffert said she and other county officials would meet today to discuss options.

Asked if similar groups would be allowed to rent the building in the future, Hoffert said, "The Dayton Regional Advisory Council is in charge of the building. I don't think I have the authority to say no."

For the past several years, Hoffert has voluntarily handled the scheduling calendar for the board.

Noting past damage to the facility, Hoffert told the advisory council last week there needs to be someone on site during these functions to monitor activities and notify law enforcement officials when problems start.

"We have had holes poked in the walls, dirt and trash left behind and furniture damaged," Hoffert said. "Some groups also allow underage drinking, drawing a number of juveniles to these functions."

Hoffert said there is a list of 20 rules those renting the facility agree to follow, but without someone on site to monitor behavior she is usually unaware of problems until staff members show up the following day.

"I don't think we need to incur the expense of hiring cops to be on site, but perhaps we should raise the fees to allow for a full-time employee to monitor activities. A lot of groups simply do not care if they get their $300 deposit back or not. We have had to spend that just to clean up and repair things after some events."

Council member Paul Howard suggested residents be allowed to rent the building for less than outside users.

"The taxpayers in the county fund this building. We should be able to rent it at the least amount required," he said. "We could just say no to outside groups or to those known to allow underage drinking."

Hoffert pointed out that money raised from rental fees are important to funding the upkeep of the building and she did not want to raise the possibility of being charged with discrimination if some groups were denied access

The building is frequently booked for wedding receptions, family reunions, club celebrations and fund-raisers. Because the Dayton center's $200 rental fee and $300 cleaning deposit are considerably less than what is charged at the Carson City Community Center and other sites, a number of those using the facility come from Carson City.

Carson Community Center fees range from $75 for up to four hours to $200 for one-day use for a nonprofit resident group. There is also a 50-cent-per-chair and $2.25-per-table charge. Non-resident and commercial groups are charged more.

Carson City Park and Recreation Director Steve Kastens said, depending on the type of event, an organization may be required to pay for on-site security through the city. The city has a contract with a Reno-based security firm.

"We have had similar occurrences to what happened in Dayton, but since we established our security policy we have not had a problem," Kastens said.

The town of Genoa does require on site monitoring and has had no serious behavioral problems. Rental and deposit fees are similar to those in Dayton.


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