Eastern Market Strategic Plan Goes Unfunded in FY22 Budget

Eastern Market Report: June 23, 2021

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Courtesy Eastern Market/DGS

Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) Vice Chair Charles Burger and founding member Monte Edwards recently testified before the City Council’s Committee on Facilities and Procurement about the Eastern Market maintenance needs for FY22.    

At the June 16th hearing, the two pointed out neglected budget-related issues and highlighted the recent setbacks to legislatively-required coordination between the Department of General Services (DGS) and EMCAC. DGS owns and manages the Eastern Market.

Burger testified that the budget process stipulated in the legislation was not followed for FY22 and that EMCAC was not given the opportunity to provide input on the budget request process prior to submission to the Mayor. EMCAC is the legislative mandated advisory body under District Code.

Among the particular issues raised were DGS’ failure to include money for the implementation of the Eastern Market Strategic Plan and its recommendations, funded at a cost of $300,000 and completed in the autumn of 2020.

A strategic plan points a way forward for organizations, setting  priorities, strengthening operations and working toward common goals. The Eastern Market Strategic Plan is for the Eastern Market Special Use Area (EMSUA), which includes the market inside the building, an ecosystem of outdoor markets and the brick and mortar businesses in the area.

The 100-page report, issued Oct. 7, 2020, made 12 recommendations supported by 52 strategies. It calls for major changes at the market, including replacing existing management (the Department of General Services advised by EMCAC, with a nonprofit public-partnership board composed of DC government reps, stakeholders, and community members.

Need for Repairs, Security

Edwards, who has twenty years of experience as EMCAC Capital Improvements Chair, testified that an estimated one million dollars are currently needed for maintenance of this unique public facility. However, only one of the EMCAC projects recommended was included in the current FY 22 budget: $330,000 for security bollards.

There is a need to repair of the building itself, specifically the dangers associated with the continuous “spalling of the brownstones,” at the entrance of  the Pottery Studio.

In addition, Edwards pointed to the continued failure to implement a 2013 Eastern Market Emergency Response Plan which would enable market management to alert the entire Market when and if there are any number of  possible security issues.

Eastern Market remains a potential target with the numbers of visitors in the  thousands on weekends. Currently there is neither a police nor private security presence on site on weekends.

Market Manager’s Report

At the June 23rd  virtual meeting of EMCAC, Market Manager Barry Margeson reported that the financial picture of the Market is continuously increasing as the year progresses.

In March, year-end revenue projections for FY21 were $473,437. These have been updated and the Market is now projected to realize $538,427 annually.   

Market revenue for the year to date is $305,577.

The North Hall was closed due to pandemic restrictions. Now reopened, it relies primarily on revenue for private events and so is projected to continue a staggeringly dismal revenue year with little promise of rebound. North Hall revenue is currently projected at $33,000.

This latest financial picture, Margeson adds, promises an improved but still significant shortfall of $136,000, bettering an earlier estimate of a $200,000 gap.

Hours:

4th of July hours:  The South Hall is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and arts & crafts until 4:30 p.m.

There is no longer any limit or capacity for the Market per the Mayor’s orders. However, masks are still required.

The new Market Hours are:

Farmer’s Line weekends, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Arts & Crafts weekends, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

South Hall weekly Tuesday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

South Hall Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ; closed Mondays

Peter Waldron is a long time Hill resident and a former Chair of ANC 6B who has been reporting on the Eastern Market for thirteen years. Waldron can be reached at [email protected] .