DowntownDC BID Secures Approval for Budget, New Board Members, Learns About Infrastructure
By Rachel Rose Hartman
An announcement regarding a new executive director for the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) is forthcoming, BID Chairman of the Board of Directors Michael McCarthy announced June 15 at the annual BID board and membership meeting.
Following Executive Director Richard H. Bradley’s decision last year to relinquish his role, a search committee was tasked with choosing a new executive director. McCarthy said the committee will present their selection in the near future to the board for their approval.
The announcement was part of the annual BID membership and board of directors meeting held at the DowntownDC BID office. There, BID members and board of directors on June 15 elected 15 new and returning members to terms beginning Oct. 1, 2015.
Members also approved board leadership for fiscal year 2016: Randall Boe, executive vice president and general counsel for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, will serve as chairman; Peter Johnston, senior vice president and regional manager for Boston Properties, will serve as first vice chair; Robert H. Braunohler, regional president of Property Group partners, will serve as second vice chair; Ginger Laytham, senior executive officer for Clyde’s Restaurant Group, will serve as secretary; Chase W. Rynd, executive director of the National Building Museum, will serve as treasurer; and Richard H. Bradley, executive director of the DowntownDC BID, will continue to serve as president until his replacement is chosen.
The BID’s proposed FY 2016 budget, authored by current Board Treasurer Randall Boe, was approved June 15 by the board of directors, finalizing an agenda for the coming year that will enable the BID to continue supporting its key objectives and serve Downtown. The organization continues to be in good financial standing, according to Boe, and is reaching anticipated revenue totals and cash on hand levels for the current period. Funding for the BID’s clean and safe efforts continues to total more than half of the BID’s annual budget.
The BID’s annual meeting also focused on the topic of infrastructure and the critical need Washington, D.C. immediately faces for investing in water, electricity and transportation.
The DowntownDC BID released this month a Leadership Paper entitled, “Investing in Infrastructure: A Choice for the Future.” The paper offers a larger context for prioritizing infrastructure support in the D.C. Metropolitan region for transportation, water and electricity systems. In 2015, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) identified a 15-year $58 billion funding gap for the region’s infrastructure.
“Assessing financial need provides the starting point for the city government and the community to discuss priorities for investment,” the paper reads. “Making choices among the infrastructure investments and creating an implementation plan to finance them will require new approaches to how the city builds.”
Two distinguished guest speakers at the June 15 meeting presented on infrastructure: Robert Puentes, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program and D.C. City Administrator Rashad M. Young.
Puentes noted that while the “issues of infrastructure has certainly been pushed closer to the front burner,” much of the conversation about the urgency for infrastructure investment is still driven by crises. An infrastructure breakdown “draws attention” to the problem, but ultimately, it “doesn’t help with investing,” he said. He explained that more people need to understand that infrastructure remains not only a “fundamental part of daily life,” but is critical to achieving national goals such as safety, security and employment in America.
Two main barriers to investing in infrastructure continue to exist, Puentes said: The idea of infrastructure is too abstract and there is often too much emphasis on the federal government’s investment. “The federal share is actually very small,” Puentes said.
Young then explained what Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration is working to do to support the city’s infrastructure, which is “key to everything we do,” he said. One major action the adminstration is undertaking is the creation of the public-private partnership (P3) office, where the administration will use metrics and data to dictate their strategies and decision-making processes. Younh said that the administration will be developing a “robust performance management program” and integrate the city’s budget process for more strategic plans and funding.
While the city continues to operate and fund a significant progressive social agenda, Young acknowledged that they will have to make difficult decisions. Failing to invest in infrastructure, “it always catches up with you,” Young said.
BID Executive Director Richard H. Bradley offered remarks on the topic of transportation infrastructure. He noted how infrastructure goals have drastically changed since the formation of the BID in 1997.
Even a decade ago, “people would fight us not to have stations out front,” Bradley said of the now popular and ubiquitous Capital Bikeshare stations. Today, the Capital Bikeshare system “pays for itself,” he said.
Bradley heralded the continued success of the DC Circulator, which was created by the BID and partners 10 years ago, and which launched this month a National Mall route that was the topic of the first discussions for the DC Circulator.
Lastly, Bradley addressed challenges faced by the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority and Metrorail. While WMATA recently committed to invest in more eight-car rail trains and the step is a promising move to provide better service, much work remains, Bradley said. Metrorail’s multitude of challenges, including the lack of investment, is one of many reasons why the city needs to quickly refocus energy and funding on infrastructure.