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Our View: Mayo Civic Center security deal is appropriate

October 19, 2018

Considering all the time, effort and funding that went into the most recent major expansion of Mayo Civic Center, the $218,000 contract for on-site security the Rochester City Council approved Monday is money well spent.

The expansion of the civic center, which was completed in mid-2017, created large, welcoming open spaces that are ideal for receptions, mid-meeting breaks, community gatherings, and, unfortunately, for loitering.

It’s the latter category that has civic center and city officials concerned. There are now several points of entry to the building, and most of them are, by necessity, open all day and into the evening. But the building is now so expansive, with so many hallways, so many ways to get in and out, so many places to hide, that it’s nearly impossible to ensure security throughout the entire facility without on-site professional expertise.

On the one hand, officials want to maintain a “sense of openness,” as Donna Drews, executive director of the civic center, said. On the other hand, openness without limits offers unlimited opportunities for mischief and vandalism, not to mention “hanging around” with no particular purpose.

“Now that the weather is turning cooler, it’s a good time to have a presence,” Drews told the city council.

The city’s contract with Premier Security will provide 15 hours per day of that presence — a security guard checking doors, making sure certain spaces are secured, and in general keeping an eye on things.

We agree with Drews that the civic center, which belongs, after all, to the community, should continue to be as open as possible. Keeping the building under lock and key during non-event times would not be appropriate.

Yes, it’s disappointing that the civic center faces this challenge. But imagine the expense of damaged furnishings, or of injuries to those using the building for mischief. Then consider the lost business that could possibly result.

The community has already made a huge investment in building and maintaining a first-class convention center, concert hall and sports venue, all under one roof. Paying for first-class security is part of the price of doing business — even in Rochester.