The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) met April 26th in-person and virtually in a conference room at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue to allow an event in the market’s North Hall, their usual meeting place.
Among the business under discussion was an examination of an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) forwarded from the Department of General Services (DGS) to EMCAC for comment.
DGS is both the landlord and manager of the Eastern Market.
EMCAC Chair Chuck Burger also pressed forward on his varying initiatives to bring new energy to EMCAC by way of restructuring and growing its committees.
There have been two (ERPs) sent to EMCAC for comment and review over the course of the past decade, one in 2013 and more recently in 2022. Last year, EMCAC expressed a number of concerns. But they have now adopted the 2013 “principles,” saying the more recent 2022 plan is clearly more suited to adoption for an office building and has protocols that are geared for survival of a different kind of emergency than the committee feels is likely at the market.
Any new plan would be complicated and a challenge to formulate, but in the instance of an open and thriving market coming up with a working and properly rehearsed emergency plan is a formidable task.
Questions that need addressing include: who declares an emergency; where to move people in an emergency; and, how to communicate with thousands of customers at a busy public market.
These are all questions that are not easily answered. Former ANC commissioner and current EMCAC member Brian Pate pointed out that it is not EMCAC’s job to fix the deficiencies but rather to return the plan to DGS and ask them to do so. “In my opinion this report is critically deficient,” Pate said, arguing both that the 2013 and 2022 plans “[create] risk and liability for the city…… and for this body, to some extent.”
Burger reminded the group that the plan is a work in progress and urged the adoption of its “principles.” A motion was made to adopt the report as offered and as a working draft document and it passed unanimously. In the end it was decided that the working “principles” of the 2013 plan would guide EMCAC as it moves forward.
A lengthy and animated discussion followed Burger’s presentation of n initiative to restructure and expand existing EMCAC committees as well as create new ones and reallocate some functions to the new committees.
By law EMCAC has two committees: a Tenants’ Council and an Application Review Committee. However, for the past decade or more the committees that have proved to be the most instrumental are the Capital Improvements Committee, chaired by Monte Edwards; and the Operations Committee, chaired by independent member Tom Kuchenberg. Under the Burger restructuring these two committees would be absorbed and made into one.
Other new committees might focus on technology and fundfaising.
Burger said a goal of this process is to tap into what must be a large number of talented Hill residents for service on EMCAC to strengthen the Eastern Market through volunteer service. The chair was peppered with dozens of questions as to how these new committees would function and what kind of structure they would exercise.
ANC 6B Representative to EMCAC Gerry Sroufe posed some key questions as the discussion wrapped up, asking Burger would he would say about the lack of definition. “Would there be some structure and who would be in charge and who would people report to?” Sroufe asked.
Burger responded that these new committees would be ad hoc and sub-committees and “and will all report back to EMCAC and we will find out if we even have people and if anyone is really interested.”
Peter J. Waldron is a long time resident and former Chair of the Neighborhood Advisory Commission (ANC6B). He has been reporting on the Eastern Market for more than fifteen years. Waldron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.