Billed as a wedding reception, a teenage birthday party at the Madison Township Community Center got out of hand Feb. 16 with blood and blows flying in a parking lot.
Interim Madison Township Administrator Dale Bryan said when police responded to the incident, 30-to 40 partygoers "scattered like cockroaches" into the night, leaving behind one young man who was transported to the hospital in need of stitches, marijuana seeds in a bathroom, and a bloody hand print on a glass door.
Chairs were turned over, a magazine rack destroyed, and trash littered the center. However, despite all of the destruction, no one was arrested because no one volunteered information or pointed fingers as to who started the incident.
When she scheduled the event, a woman renting the center told township staffers the celebration was for a wedding reception. Bryan said had she stated the true intent of the party-a teenage gathering-she would have been required to have a police officer supervise the event.
"The lady who rented the hall does not live in the township," said Bryan, although she initially indicated she lived in the area and gave a local phone number, according to the administrator. "She rented it under the guise of a wedding reception, but it was a party for a 13-year-old. The situation got out of hand pretty quickly. (In the future) We want to take additional steps to verify the person renting the center is a resident. According to Sgt. Skinner, with the number of people here (during the birthday party), even one officer wouldn’t have been enough."
Trustee Susan Brobst said the trustees want to open discussion on requirements and fees associated with renting the community center. At the present time, residents and civic associations can book the center for four hours or less for free. Non-residents are required to pay $25 for the first two hours and then $15 for each subsequent hour. According to the reservation formed signed by renters, certain activities may be required to retain the services of a Madison Township police officer at a charge of $31 per hour.
"We have a lot of groups in here that have used the center for years and that doesn’t warrant a special duty officer," reported Brobst. "Granted, this (Feb. 16 event) was an extreme case, but in other incidents, it’s been minor in relationship to the number of events held here.
For activities drawing over 75 people, a special duty officer may also be required, depending on the nature of the event. Changes under consideration include requiring a deposit when booking the center and more accurate verification of residency. Brobst said they want to have everything in place before September because that is when the township starts accepting reservations for the following year.
Bryan stated township staffer Donna Hamler also expressed problems with individuals renting the center and then canceling at the last moment.
Bryan said the woman who signed for the party, which ended in a brouhaha, reserved five different days and then, more or less, picked and chose the date she wanted, leaving the remaining dates closed to other potential renters.
"I think the most important element in this is accountability," added Trustee Jim Hummel. "The thing we lacked in this incident is we can’t even get a hold of this person."
Other Madison Township news
•The trustees received a letter from Columbus outlining a pair of low-income housing projects developed by the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation that could be built on the perimeter of the township.
"There has been some concern raised about access in and around these areas," said Hummel. "I also have a concern why they’re building more low income housing units when so many in the area are empty. It certainly has an impact on the township. There are a huge number of these units in and around the township."
Brobst said she looked at both areas-Shannon Road, where the 50-unit Creekside Landing is proposed and the west side of Noe-Bixby and Hatfield, where the Village at Amberfield would house 39 units-but only expressed concern about Amberfield.
"The existing roads down there, in my opinion, are not wide enough for emergency vehicles to get through." stated Brobst. "We definitely have some concern for residents and future residents. It’s not going to be a good situation to put any more traffic in there."
However, Hummel said, since the pair of developments are in Columbus, the city has no obligation to consider the concerns and opinions of neighboring municipalities, other than notifying them of the situation.