Capitol Hill BID Pushes Back on Metro Plaza Maintenance – Says They Can’t Do It

Capitol Hill BID Pushes Back on Metro Plaza Maintenance – Says They Can’t Do It

By Larry Janezich

The unresolved question of who is going to maintain Eastern Market Metro Plaza/Park tables, chairs, public space furniture and other tasks moved to the front burner Wednesday afternoon, when Patty Brosmer, President of the Capitol Hill BID, said they can’t do it.

At a Department of General Services virtual briefing of the Eastern Market Metro Park Advisory Team yesterday, Brosmer said that maintenance of the plaza/park was totally separate from the Capitol Hill BID operation.  She said the additional work would “require resources we don’t have”, and that the BID has been using Covid Payroll Protection Program funds to maintain the spaces around the Metro entrance but they can’t do it forever. 

“The city came in and built this and left it up to us to maintain,” she added, “but it’s a big deal to wipe down furniture a few times a day”.  She said this is a problem common to all eleven of the city’s BIDs and by no means do they accept the additional tasks – “all of them are up in arms about it”.  The  BIDs – Business Improvement Districts – are private public partnerships funded by property owners that provide enhanced services in commercial and mixed use neighborhoods.

The issue of who would take care of the plaza/park has come up from time to time, and there was once talk of reaching a contractual agreement with the BID.  It appears that this was never formalized and the BID’s responsibility was taken for granted by the DGS contractor and others.  ANC6B02 Commissioner Jerry Sroufe – whose single member district includes the Plaza – commented that his recollection was that the BID was to maintain it and if not, we need another answer. 

Managing public space furniture is more problematic than it sounds, as users move the tables and chairs to seek shade or suit their convenience.  Just returning the furniture to the hard surfaces where they are intended to be rather than on the grass requires considerable time and attention.  Sometimes, plaza furniture has been found far afield.  

Nichole Opkins, representing  CM Charles Allen’s office expressed surprise that the BID had brought this up so late in the game. 

Brosmer said she had had a conversation with the city two years ago and were fine with emptying the trash, but weeding and furniture care involves a lot extra and “we can’t do it”.  She offered to provide documentation of what the city told her they would take care of. 

Opkins said she would continue discussions with Brosmer and bring the Department of General Services and the Department of Parks and Recreation into the loop as well.

The Metro Plaza renovation is nearing completion, and the children’s playground on parcel one between 8th and 9th Street, has proven to be extremely popular and successful with the playground and splash pad often attracting more than 100 people to the destination and a gathering place.  CM Charles Allen got the $15 million in budget authority for the project.

Patty Brosmer has been the President of the Capitol Hill Business Improvement District (BID) since its inception in early 2003. Prior to that, she was a consultant to the interim board during the 3-year formation phase of the BID.


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4 responses to “Capitol Hill BID Pushes Back on Metro Plaza Maintenance – Says They Can’t Do It

  1. David MacKinnon

    I asked Charles Allen a month ago who was going to maintain the plazas and gardens which have become weedy. That’s a lot of turf maintenance. Maybe a volunteer organization? I doubt the Capitol Hill Garden Club members are up to it. David MacKinnon

  2. Liz eby

    The metro entrance park is a disaster zone at night when nobody is cleaning it up. Trash all over, furniture all over, gravel all over. The people who use it certainly don’t seem to be invested in upkeep. We’ve invested a lot of money in this project. Maybe the folks who started thinking about this project 10 years ago will step forward. Covid requirements are one thing but Is it possible that responsibility and funds for regular maintenance were omitted from the plan?

  3. 7th St SE

    The BID president’s 2021 salary is $290k while $490k is set aside for clean program salaries. The BID administrative costs seem pretty high for a program with only $3.7M in income based on commercial taxes and the contractual obligations.

    The salaries over at the Georgetown BID are notably less for a larger-scale program. I wonder if this BID is appropriately focused on providing services in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

    Maintaining this part seems directly in line with their mission and charter.


    Click to access bid-fy-2021-budget-to-print-and-mail.pdf

    Click to access FY20_Annual-Report.pdf

    • The Georgetown BID report does not list any salaries – it only shows a budget for different program areas. You can’t draw any conclusions about that at all.

      The key difference is that the Georgetown BID has a annual budget of around $5 million, while the Capitol Hill BID has a much smaller budget of $1.7 million. Of course the Georgetown BID can do more.

      And maintaining spaces like these are absolutely things that BIDs can do. But you have to come to an agreement about how to pay for it – you can’t just assume that someone else will do the job for you.