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Public Safety Concerns Widen at Eastern Market

 The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) is for the moment focused on public safety concerns triggered by and due to the growing widespread fear of a major incident that is now a daily part of American life. Equally concerning is the perceived rise locally of theft and aggressive behavior at the Market.  

These issues have accelerated the sense that more steps need to be taken to protect the Market as there is no longer a scheduled or budgeted police presence at the Market on weekends.   

This has been the case since the budget cutbacks that were initiated as a reaction to the pandemic.  

Instead, there has been promised increase of foot patrols from the already shorthanded officers of Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) First District.  

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EMCAC held its monthly meeting at the North Hall on July 26th and immediately tackled a draft letter outlining steps that EMCAC has enacted to address these public safety issues as well as those measures proposed to enhance security. 

 Chair Chuck Burger stated that the final version of a draft letter addressing these concerns was going to be delivered to “everybody.” That includes members of the District’s Executive Branch,  DC Council and the Department of General Services (DGS), which has responsibility for the Market. 

Among steps that are in process are a new alarm system for the South Hall building and funding for retractable bollards. The bollards are scheduled to be installed at both ends of the Market by November.  

“Active shooter training” has even begun with one session already having been held for merchants and vendors in early July in the North Hall.  

EMCAC found a proposed Emergency Response Plan (ERP) proposed to be deficient for a public market, the criticism being that it is more tailored four use in city administrative buildings.” 

The key recommendation from EMCAC is to “restore the budget line for a uniform security presence,“ as well as to “sustain routine 1st District patrols through the Market area.” 

AD Hoc Committee for Public Safety  

Burger announced the formation of one of the many new ad hoc committees that he hopes will engage the community more and provide EMCAC with a continuing new sense of energy. According to Burger the Ad Hoc Committee on Public Safety (AHCPS) will “specifically address public safety issues within the Eastern Market Special Use District and the immediate area.”  

AHCPS will ideally be made up of volunteers who will tackle fire hazards, security of daily market daily operations, threat alerts, public safety training, physical safety improvements and other related issues as determined by EMCAC in consultation with AHCPS.  

Burger said volunteer “interest is high”, and that he expects the new committee to have a membership initially of ten with an elected chair. AHCPS will “provided a monthly report to EMCAC for discussion.” 

If you are interested Burger can be reached at cburger@cbmove or 202 258 5316. 

Market Manager’s Report  

DGS Market Manager Barry Margeson reported that revenue through three quarters was $565,438, slightly below the projected $588,646. Annual revenue is expected to reach $753,916. At its peak just before the pandemic, Market revenue was approaching just under $1 million annually. Virtually all growth has been due to expanded use of the North Hall for privately booked events and the current recovery is fueled by that same growth.  

Expenses average $179,141 per quarter with a projected loss of $64,395; that does not include items that were not in the budget, totaling $217,485. That leads to an expected loss of $281,880. 

Peter Waldron is a long-time Hill resident and former Chair of ANC 6B. He has been reporting on the Eastern Market for thirteen years. Waldron can be reached at peter218@prpdogy.n

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