Eastern Market Task Force Report & Recommendations

April 25, 2011

by Tommy Wells

Eastern Market TF2.jpgAs you may know, I have been undertaking an effort to explore options for new Eastern Market governance. A little more than ten years ago, my predecessor and former Ward 6 Councilmember Sharon Ambrose, wrote legislation to create a governance structure for the Market that improved its stability and growth at the time.  Currently, the District's Department of Real Estate Services (DRES) has responsibility for Market management and may hire a manager, while the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) has no authority and is only advisory.  Past Market managers have exploited this limited accountability and despite its promise, the Market has suffered.  In the short time after the Eastern Market fire and the city's restoration investment of $22 million, DRES has made it known that it wants out of the Market management business.  It has become clear that this is the time to explore a new approach.

I created the Task Force to advise me on the future direction of Market governance with the goal to ensure a sustainable future while preserving the character of the Market as a public fresh food farmers' market and ensuring a role for community arts.  The Task Force -- headed up by co-chairs Sharon Ambrose and Peter Waldron -- reached out to all Market stakeholders, brick and mortar business, residents in the immediate vicinity and established representative organizations including CHAMPS and the ANC to seek input. 

Eastern Market TF3.jpgI am happy to report that the Task Force has concluded its report and I have personally presented it to all stakeholders.  The Task Force has done an outstanding job of thinking through the challenges the Market faces and preparing a new governance structure to meet the demands now and in the future.

To read the Task Force's full report and recommendations, click on the following link: Eastern Market Task Force Report.pdf.

By and large, I agree with most of their findings, but there are a few areas where I have some reservations and I've outlined these in my conversations with the stakeholder meetings.  For example, the Task Force calls for an 11 member board of directors comprised of residents with expertise in particular areas valuable to Market operations and whose fiduciary duties will be to the Market.  The Task Force has recommended that the Mayor would appoint 2 members, the Council chair would appoint 1, and the Ward 6 Councilmember would appoint 5. The remaining three slots would be filled by representatives from the merchants, vendors and farmers. I have some concerns over appointing 5 of the board members and believe that number should be reduced.

Eastern Market TF1.bmpI also have some reservations about the Task Force recommendation that 10% of all sales taxes raised in the Capitol Hill Historic District be set aside and dedicated to capital improvements to the Market structure. I am committed to a plan that will assure the Market's financial viability and meet the capital needs; but I am not sure that this is best route to achieve that goal.

This is an ongoing work in progress. My next step is to finalize a draft of the new legislation and introduce it at the Council. My goal is to have all required Council action completed before the end of this year. I appreciate your comments and thoughts, and encourage you to use the comments section on this page below. I hope you will read the report and share your feedback. I am confident that together we can continue building on the success of our Market and ensure it remains the outstanding community amenity we all know it is.


Walking in the presence of giatns here. Cool thinking all around!

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