Potential for Clash on EMCAC Membership

Eastern Market Report

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Seen here at a May 22, 2018 press conference,Ellen Opper-Weiner is President of a newer iteration of EMPDC, and seeks a seat on EMCAC.

EMCAC faces a potential clash of who holds a voting seat on its eleven-member board, a decision which threatens to end the “peace treaty” that has existed between competing community factions who fought over the direction of the Market in the 80s and 90s.

Chuck Burger, Chair of Nominations and Credentials, reported that Ellen Opper-Weiner, once a member of EMCAC, had submitted an application for seating on EMCAC for a newly created community organization, the Eastern Market Preservation Development Corporation (EMPDC) even as it is currently represented by Richard Layman who too represents an organization of the same name.

According to Burger the first step for EMCAC was to first seek a legal opinion from DGS, which he said promptly “punted to the Office of the Attorney General.”

Under the Eastern Market legislation, EMPDC is a permanently seated member “who among other things shall provide insights from its focus on Eastern Market issues.”

“Other organizations” may be added to EMCAC“ by a vote of 75% of the EMCAC members if they “have demonstrated substantial membership, broad Capitol Hill activity focus, and longevity of establishment sufficient to warrant a representative on EMCAC subject to the limit [of seats on EMCAC],“ which by law is eleven.

Strategic Plan for Eastern Market in Works

Earlier this spring, DC Council enacted legislation allocating $300,000 for the development of a strategic plan.

At a recent June Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) Chair Donna Scheeder gave an update on the Request for Application (RFA) to develop a strategic plan for the Market, saying that “things are moving along.”

The RFA went live on July 3rd. Applications are due on July 22nd. A decision on the winning application is expected to be made by mid- to late August. For details on the requirements and the application process see www.dmped.dc.gov/node/805872.

The results of the strategic study are expected in one year.

Leases

The issue of leases, unresolved for more than two decades, may well be coming to a resolution at least as far as representatives of DGS are concerned. According to Margeson, the original legislation calls on merchants to pay market rate. DGS commissioned a study by the Marcus Asset Group in 2017 which recommended doubling and sometimes virtually tripling rents of the South Hall merchants.

At a meeting in May, merchants were offered a number of possibilities which include:

adoption of the proposed rental rates;

conducting their own appraisals which could be “used in conjunction with the DGS appraisal to determine a final rental rate;

“open their books and agree to a rent that reflects a reasonable per cent of gross sales.”

The merchants have until July 1st to respond.

Associate Director of DGS John Stokes is trying to address lingering issues and move the Market forward, especially in regard to matters linked to the lease matter. Stokes said, “there have been years and years and years of this [discussion on new leases]. We want to do something.”

Both Councilmember Charles Allen and EMCAC Chair Scheeder argue that singular consideration should be given when making this decision as the Market is a ‘public good’.

A parking validation sign is posted at Bower’s Fancy Dairy Products in Eastern Market. Photo: E. O’Gorek

Parking

Margeson reported that outdoor vendors are complying with requests to park in the spaces at 700 Penn (the Hine project), thus preserving parking for customers. He said this contrasted with the South Hall merchants, who are now participating in a validated parking plan of limited scope but have been slow to embrace this plan.

The new validated parking plan offers parking at the 700 Penn building at a discount of $4.00. “My quick survey of the merchants shows that not many of them are being requested to provide vouchers for 700 Penn,” he said, adding that only fifteen of the vouchers that were given out to the merchants have been used to date.

Eastern Market Weather is Good

The Eastern Market, the crown jewel of Capitol Hill, continues to build unabated institutional momentum with a string of recent successes including the celebration June 7-9 of the 10th anniversary of the reopening of the Market after the disastrous fire of 2007.

Market revenues have tripled in the decade since the fire.  Six hundred thousand dollars in capital improvements funded by the District are currently in the pipeline. Management is stable with Market Manager Barry Margeson, the most senior public market manager in the mid-Atlantic region. The Market no longer runs a deficit.

In the face of these changes, the Market has managed to retain its historic integrity as business activity has strengthened despite equally fierce growth in the public market sphere.

Eastern Market Manager Barry Margeson serves cake on Sunday, June 9, the final day of the weekend-long 10th anniversary celebration of the re-opening of the building after a devastating fire.

Rediscover Eastern Market

The first weekend of June was a full-throttle celebration of the tenth anniversary of the renovation of the Eastern Market. The Department of General Services, the Market landlord and manager, threw its considerable support behind efforts to make this a successful event.

Fox Five Zip televised its weekly show the day of Friday’s kickoff.  A wide-ranging program of outreach on social media was undertaken. The balance of the weekend featured music and entertainment for families which attracted even more customers to the Market.

As far as sales, Anita Jefferson, who represents the outdoors arts and craft vendors, reported that “business was at a regular pace or slower” and that “sales did not increase.”

Angie Brunson, owner of Blue Iris Flowers, reported that her business was “good” and that the carryover has continued in the subsequent weeks.

A new bookstore honoring slain Capital Community News reporter Charnice Milton is planned for Southeast DC, where she grew up.

Remembering Charnice Milton

On May 27, 2015 27-year-old Hill Rag reporter Charnice Milton was murdered at 9:40 p.m. at a bus stop in Southeast as she was on her way home from an EMCAC community meeting.

Milton, a talented young reporter, earned her bachelor’s degree at Ball State and a Master’s at Syracuse before coming home to use her education in her community. She was not the intended target of the shooting. Her murder remains unsolved.

In response to a recent inquiry, MPD said “there are no new updates in this case at this time. It remains open and under investigation.”

The Busboys & Poets Restaurant in Anacostia recently opened the Charnice Milton Community Bookstore in Charnice’s name.  All the books for children are free.

Anyone who has knowledge of this crime should call police at 202-727-9099.  Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s Text Tip Line by sending a text message to 50411.

The Metropolitan Police Department currently offers a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone that provides information which leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for any homicide committed in the District of Columbia.

Peter J. Waldron covers Eastern Market for the Hill Rag. He can be reached at peter218@prodigy.net. For more information about EMCAC or Eastern Market, visit www.easternmarket-dc.org.