Launch Pad Initiative
Monte Edwards, Chair of the Capital Improvements Committee, kicked off the February 28 Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) meeting in the North Hall with an update on the Launch Pad Initiative, a new approach by the District government in hiring contractors for needed repairs. Concerns had been expressed at a previous meeting of the special needs of the Market when undergoing repairs and improvements.
Edwards, after attending a bidding session sponsored by the Department of General Services (DGS), described a “productive process” that seemed to allay EMCAC fears of the quality of the proposed work that might be undertaken which includes window replacement and the replacement of cathedral stones at the main entrance.
Chair Donna Scheeder pointed out that there were two remaining concerns: how these repairs were to be paid for and how a review and sign off on the quality of work would be managed.
RFP Cancelled for a Strategic Plan
Scheeder announced that efforts by DGS to publish a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the management of the outdoor markets on lower Seventh St. SE have been postponed. DGS has accepted the recommendation of EMCAC taken at the previous month’s meeting and is moving forward with a long needed “strategic plan” for the entire Eastern Market Square.
According to Market Manager Barry Margeson “we have drafted the Scope of Work for the Strategic Plan and it is being reviewed internally before we release it to EMCAC for review.”
EMCAC member Richard Layman suggested that there are already a number of excellent templates for a strategic plan adopted and posted on web sites by other nearby regional public markets among them the Lancaster & Lexington Markets as well as the recently opened Boston Market.
Discordant Note on Staff Harassment
Joe Snyder, a arts and crafts vendor, raised concerns among vendors of an unnamed resident who is continuously engaging in “bullying of staff,” disrupting staff in the middle of workdays as though “they are their maid.” Referring to this “ego vigilante” from a nearby “million dollar house” Snyder urged EMCAC to take some action against the alleged mistreatment of an assistant manager as well as the janitorial staff.
A second vendor added that she wanted to “piggy back” on what was said adding that it is impacting the Market and is occurring in a “public environment” with a potential for workplace harassment.
Scheeder asked Market Manager Margesion to investigate and report back to EMCAC with more information.
Market Manager’s Report
Margeson acknowledged that revenue for January ($56,511.84) was down but was reflective of the winter season when there are fewer outdoor vendors and farmers because of the weather.
North Hall revenues were off as well at $22,517.50.
As far as the ongoing two decades old lease negotiations, Margeson stated that DGS Director Greer Gillis met with the South Hall merchants and “the leases were one of the topics on the agenda. “
After months of wrangling over incomplete budgetary as well as timely and current financial data that reflect the state of the fiscal health of the Market and despite a legal requirement that EMCAC be consulted on budgets 30 days before City Council hearings, DGS released a budget that once again muddied the fiscal waters even as it offered some surprising clarity.
The document released for review and comment one business day before DGS’s hearing at the City Council as part of the larger FY19 budget process has Eastern Market revenue projected at $1,088, 060.55.
Total expenses are identically $1,088,060.55 with $489, 999.41 in personnel costs. Non personnel costs are $598,061.55.
There are no breakdowns as to the source of the various Market revenue streams. There is no accompanying budget for FY18 although there are FY18 actuals through February 2018. In addition there is no funding for the promised strategic plan.
One item that leaps from the page is a FY19 projection of $165,565.14 for “contractual services” or nearly 400% of FY17 actuals with no explanation.
In a long and overdue acknowledgement DGS has reported for the first time that the legally constituted repository of Eastern Market funds, the Enterprise Fund, previously and repeatedly reported to be at a zero balance by the Market Manager including that it is “swept” annually had a “fund balance” of $497,029.44 at the beginning of FY17 with an ending balance of $630, 420.20.