Eastern Market Comittee Asks Council for Public Safety Improvements

Eastern Market Report: September 2023

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Courtesy Eastern Market/DGS

The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) met on Wednesday, Sept. 27 in hybrid form —in person as well as by Zoom— in the North Hall.

Public Safety Letter

The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) met on Wednesday, Sept. 27 in hybrid form —in person as well as by Zoom— in the North Hall.

Guided by Chair Chuck Burgers’ leadership, EMCAC is circulating a letter among a variety of relevant parties. This includes all DC Council members; the Office of Mayor Muriel Bowser; market managers, the Department of General Services (DGS); and the larger community.

This letter is a final version of a draft reported on previously by the Hill Rag and includes a number of items that need to be addressed on the property. But the letter’s primary purpose is to heighten awareness “of public safety and security in the operations and public activities of the Eastern Market.”

All of this was precipitated by a violent incident at the Market in early June and growing fears of rising crime and what could happen next. EMCAC’s letter was fully supported by its membership.

The principal recommendation is for a police presence once again at the Market.

Budget cuts during the pandemic removed any funding for security as a line item. Under the guidance of Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) DC Council did provide subsidies to the Market that allowed it to survive the economic collapse that came with the COVID shutdown. Three years later, with thousands shopping at the market on weekends again, there is growing concern about bad behavior as well as the ever looming threat that something catastrophic could happen.

The most important ask in the letter is funding for a “uniformed presence at the Market on weekends.  While the MPD 1st District has agreed to increase foot patrols on weekends, EMCAC members say is woefully inadequate for a permanent security presence.

Another concern enumerated in the letter are an “insufficient emergency response plan.” The current plan has been characterized as having been adopted more to a building rather than a market that also extends outdoors over three blocks.

Consistent with this heightened security threat, market management has begun active shooter training sessions.

Burger pointed out that EMCAC seeks support for public safety improvement wherever it might come from and welcomes any ideas.

In light of these growing concerns, EMCAC had established an ad hoc Public Safety Committee. It quickly has grown to 13 members, Burger said, with more than a few having “seasoned” public safety experience.

Market Manager Report

The FY23 budget year just concluded and the good news is that Market revenue continued to grow as the Market recovers from the pandemic. The yawning gap between revenue and expenses due to COVID has shrunk to $16,000, according to Market Manager Barry Margeson.

There are promising signs of growth. For the past three years of North Hall bookings, which once briefly topped $300,000 annually, are now underwhelming. FY23 revenues are roughly 160,000.

Remarkably, a spate of September bookings for FY24 has already topped out at $185,000. As an indicator this promises significant growth at both the North Hall and revenue for the greater Market that could bode a very good year.

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Peter Waldron is a long time resident and former chair of AN6B. He has been reporting on the Eastern Market for fifteen years. Waldron can be reached at peter@18@prodigy.net.

Guided by Chair Chuck Burgers’ leadership, EMCAC is circulating a letter among a variety of relevant parties which include all the Council members; to the Office of Mayor Muriel Bowser; market managers, the Department of General Services (DGS); and to the larger community as well.

This letter is a final version of a draft reported on previously  by the Hill Rag and includes a number of items that need to be addressed on the property. But the letter’s primary purpose is to heighten awareness “of public safety and security in the operations and public activities of the Eastern Market.”

All of this was precipitated by a violent incident at the Market in early June and growing fears of rising crime and what could happen next. EMCAC’s letter was fully supported by its membership.

The principal recommendation is for a police presence once again at the Market.

Budget cuts during the pandemic removed any funding for security as a line item. Under the guidance of Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) DC Council did provide subsidies to the Market that allowed it to survive the economic collapse that came with the COVID shutdown. Three years later, with thousands shopping at the market on weekends again, there is growing concern about bad behavior as well as the ever looming threat that something catastrophic could happen.

The most important ask in the letter is funding for a “uniformed presence at the Market on weekends.  While the MPD 1st District has agreed to increase foot patrols on weekends, EMCAC members say is woefully inadequate for a permanent security presence.

Another concern enumerated in the letter are an “insufficient emergency response plan.” The current plan has been characterized as having been adopted more to a building rather than a market that also extends outdoors over three blocks.

Consistent with this heightened security threat, market management has begun active shooter training sessions.

Burger pointed out that EMCAC seeks support for public safety improvement wherever it might come from and welcomes any ideas.

In light of these growing concerns, EMCAC had established an ad hoc Public Safety Committee. It quickly has grown to 13 members, Burger said, with more than a few having “seasoned” public safety experience.

Market Manager Report

The FY23 budget year just concluded and the good news is that Market revenue continued to grow as the Market recovers from the pandemic. The yawning gap between revenue and expenses due to COVID has shrunk to $16,000, according to Market Manager Barry Margeson.

There are promising signs of growth. For the past three years of North Hall bookings, which once briefly topped $300,000 annually, are now underwhelming. FY23 revenues are roughly 160,000.

Remarkably, a spate of September bookings for FY24 has already topped out at $185,000. As an indicator this promises significant growth at both the North Hall and revenue for the greater Market that could bode a very good year.

Peter Waldron is a long time resident and former chair of AN6B. He has been reporting on the Eastern Market for fifteen years. Waldron can be reached at peter@18@prodigy.net.