Flossmoor's village board will discuss options to amend their current parking policy to cater to downtown business owners and their employees.
This comes in response to a formal request from Flossmoor resident Anne Aboushsousha during the Dec. 3 village board meeting. Aboushousha, more commonly known around town as "Sweet Annie," owns Sweet Annie's Bakey in downtown Flossmoor. She says her employees and she have struggled with Flossmoor's parking situaion—and received many expensive violations—since opening up shop four years ago.
"If you work an eight-hour shift, you have to find three different areas to park, which in a big hassle, especially for those of us who work twelve-hour days," Aboushousha said. "In some shops, where there is only one person working, they have to lock their shop door and rush to change spots in between customers."
Aboushousha says Flossmoor business owners and their employees deserve free parking passes and cited Homewood as an example of a village that offers such. The Flossmoor Public Library also offers parking passes to its employees, she says.
"It is the best way to say, 'thank you,' for having our businesses in downtown Flossmoor in these incredibly challenging times," Aboushousha said. "By accommodating us with this request, there will be better parking for our customers because, now, we park in spots closest to our shops so we can quickly move our cars. If we didn't need to worry about moving, we would park farther away."
While the village does offer downtown parking passes, Aboushousha says the $80 price tag is more than many small business employees can afford.
Currently, free spots are available for parking, but they are unreasonably far away, according to Aboushousha.
"Honestly we don't feel safe walking around far distances with deposits and cash register money, nor is it practical for police officers to escort us to and from our spots twice a day, which has been suggested to me in prior conversations with village officials," Aboushousha said.
The problem is not exclusive to Sweet Annie's, either, according to Aboushousha. A questionnaire circulated among downtown Flossmoor businesses generated similar concerns. The results, she says, support her frustration.
In at least one case, her plea was an eye-opener.
"I knew that there were some issues," said Trustee Diane Williams. "I had no idea the process that you have to go through over the course of a day in order to manage parking down there. I'd be interested in supporting whatever we can in terms of looking into alternatives (to fix the problem)."
Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun said he's also been aware of issues and asked the board's guidance on how to proceed.
"I would like to see the Flossmoor Business Association to weigh in on this as well," Braun said.
Members of the board agreed that the issue needs to be addressed. Braun said the board will revisit this discussion to explore options, ideally within the first two meetings of the new year.