The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) met on September 29th with the first order of business being the annual election of officers. The currently leadership was re-elected, including Chair Donna Scheeder, Vice Chair Chuck Burger, Secretary Monte Edwards and Treasurer and community representative Tom Kuchenberg. There was one abstention: Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B representative, Commissioner Gerry Sroufe (6B02).
The re-elected leadership team has collectively more than seventy five years of experience weighing matters that impact the economic health of the Eastern Market.
As the fiscal year drew to an end, EMCAC, a legally mandated advisory body has helped steer the Market through what has been a most perilous time.
Market Manager’s Report
Market Manager Barry Margeson reported that the Eastern Market was in “pretty good shape.” Referencing support generated due to Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen’s foresight one year ago as the pandemic raged and as the economy tanked, Margeson said things are looking good. Allen inserted a $200,000 subsidy in the fiscal budget for 2021 which Margeson said significantly absorbed what were to be severe losses.
Maregeson added that, with the subsidy, the Market now has $843,000 in income. Revenue was projected to be $827,000, so it seems the revenue will satisfy requirements for the year.
Margeson said that North Hall revenue is showing signs of resurgence as there are already $55,000 in deposits received for FY22. The North Hall depends heavily on booked events such as weddings and large social gatherings for its revenue, which of course have been heavily impacted throughout the pandemic.
Chair Donna Scheeder inquired about EMCAC’s role in the upcoming budget meetings. Last year, Margeson’s employer, the Department of General Services (DGS) excluded EMCAC from consultations regarding the budget process, though bound by District law to include the committee. Markeson responded that EMCAC is welcome to attend the Oct. 19th budget meeting.
Margeson announced that there is lately “a much higher Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) presence at the Market.” However, there remain “issues” with panhandling and the occasional disruptive community members as well as unauthorized loud music. Vendors have repeatedly pointed to the danger of threats posed by terrorism.
Until last years’ pandemic forced cuts in the budget, the Market was secured by DGS’s Protective Services. Currently there is no assigned security presence at Eastern Market.
Tenants’ Council member Anita Jefferson reported that while she appreciates the police presence she believes that it is too consistent inasmuch as the police appear at the same time each weekend day. She suggested that the police vary visiting times so that they are more unpredictable in their presence and appearances.
Chuck Burger deferred to Margeson as Market Manager, but reminded EMCAC that security measures are “a very sensitive issue” and said the approach taken must be one that requires a “soft hand. “
Jazz at the Eastern Market Metro Plaza
A series of free jazz concerts have been scheduled for Fridays from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the pavilion at the Eastern Market’s newly renovated plaza. These concerts celebrate the completion of the reimagined Eastern Market Metro Plaza and are sponsored by both the Eastern Market as well as the Barracks Row Main Streets organizations for the months of September and October.
Recently The Aaron Myer Group, who also frequently play at Mr. Henry’s, entertained a crowd of approximately one hundred. Children danced free form to the notes of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” in the space in front of the pavilion while a diverse mix of residents occupied multiple benches as well as scattered tables and chairs.
The familiar notes of “Autumn Leaves” wafted across the plaza as commuters emerged from the Metro, easing, if briefly, life’s pressing business, then lingering for a moment and merging with the sounds and the sights of the impending dusk.
Peter J. Waldron is a long time Hill resident and former Chair of ANC6B and has been reporting on the Eastern Market for thirteen years. Waldron can be reached at [email protected]