Two customer parking spots added to the Lombard Cruise Nights setup on St. Charles Road are a nice gesture, but for Angie Johnson's business, they just aren't working.
"We appreciate the effort in getting the two spaces -- we really do. But it's not helping," said Johnson, who manages 20 West, a liquor store at 20 W. St. Charles Road, in the heart of the area used for Cruise Nights on 12 summer Saturdays.
Cars have parked in the spots as long as two hours, instead of the marked five-minute limit, Johnson said. And the spots, located a half-block away from her store, aren't helping keep customers coming when classic cars line the street for the events, which start at 6 p.m.
"Our sales hit a wall at about 5 p.m. and they don't get any better," Johnson said.
The five-minute customer parking spots on St. Charles Road just west of Main Street were added after Lombard spokeswoman Joelyn Kott, who volunteers to manage Cruise Nights, heard business owners wanted them.
Kott said she checked during the first Cruise Night to make sure no cruise vehicles were using the spaces. She found one spot empty and the other occupied by a pizza delivery employee of Bona Pizza, 6 W. St. Charles Road.
"I did check the first week because I wanted to see how it was," Kott said. "I haven't seen any cruise cars parking down there, so I think the attendees for Cruise Nights are respecting the parking."
Lombard police Chief Ray Byrne said he was not aware of any Cruise Nights parking complaints, but if problems arise, patrol officers will address them at the time.
"If there was a complaint, the officer would walk over there to resolve it," Byrne said.
Johnson said she knows police are attempting to enforce the five-minute limit.
"The first week of Cruise Nights, an officer did come in and tell us that they're going to be looking at the spaces but they probably wouldn't issue tickets right away because they want to educate people that they're only five minutes," Johnson said.
Karen Stonehouse, executive director of Lombard Town Centre, said she has not heard of ongoing problems with parking enforcement. She said village staff have been responsive to downtown business needs during the planning of this year's Cruise Nights.
"Enforcement is one thing, but the fact that they established (customer parking spots) in the first place showed that they're willing to make this an event that is business-friendly and benefits folks," Stonehouse said.
Still, Johnson worries her shop's business will continue to slow each Saturday evening, possibly causing 20 West to close early. Cruise Nights run weekly until Aug. 27 except July 2.
"I have nothing against this event. Does it bring a lot of people down? Yes, it does," she said. "My problem is nobody's considering the businesses that it impacts negatively."