Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Downtown Parking Wars

You can all breathe easy now. I have solved the parking problem in Downtown Elgin.

Let’s bring back the parking meters. Then let’s hire a lovely girl named Rita to watch them.

I’m kidding. Actually, the problem, per se, is less about parking spaces than it is about parking habits.

This week a few retail business owners banned together to confront some downtown employees who regularly park all day in their street’s 90-minute parking spaces. After a few days of watchful eyes, dirty looks, some choice words and smooth refereeing by a parking enforcement officer, things are much better. The employees have parked in a nearby public lot and the retailers can give their customers front door service.

Problem solved? Not really. This situation is happening on many downtown streets and not just in Elgin.

Downtowns want their streets to be pedestrian-friendly and aesthetically-pleasing. Hence the construction of parking garages to hide away the excess of vehicles. On-street parking is typically allowed for 90 minutes or less to encourage easy access for shoppers, diners, or clients frequenting downtown businesses.

I remember when I worked at JC Penney they told us in our training that employees were to park behind the “employee line”, which was about 20 spaces back, to leave the front spaces for the customers. In this case, the “employee line” is in the public lots and garages for those businesses who do not have designated parking spaces.

It may surprise you to learn that the downtown has more than 2,000 spaces in public lots and covered garages. And they are all free. So, no matter where you work in downtown, you aren’t more than two blocks from free public parking. If you work in downtown Chicago, you are probably drooling right now.

Your parking options are: the Spring Street garage, the Fulton Street garage, the Civic Center garage on Symphony Way, and the Civic Parking Lot near City Hall. If you are coming downtown for a quick trip, there are more than 500 on-street parking spaces.

You can help to create a pedestrian-friendly downtown by being aware of the parking time limits and abiding by them. It benefits the businesses, which in turn benefits the city as a whole.

And after a few months of walking a couple extra blocks every day, you may notice that it benefits your waistline too. I dropped my last few pounds of baby weight somewhere between the Tower Building and the Spring Street Garage.

And if you want to be able to park anywhere you want for as long as you want (except for on the streets) you can buy a parking sticker from the City for $30 a month. Just go the Finance Department. Tell them that DNA sent you.

Are you a visual person? See a map of Downtown parking options here >

Decade of DNA Banners

Each month in our Top 10 we unveil another banner celebrating our 10th anniversary. Here are the banners from the first 3 months of 2008:


MARCH 2008:

Mark your calendars now for our 10th Anniversary Party at the Grand Victoria Casino on October 2 beginning at 6 p.m. The event will be black tie (optional) so guys, here's your excuse to finally by that tux you've always wanted.

Downtown Elgin Top 10 | March 13-23

This is a condensed version of the weekly Top 10. Get the Top 10 in all its glory delivered directly to your inbox every Wednesday. Sign up here >

NHS Open House

Come welcome a new organization to Downtown!
Refreshments, free raffles, and giveaways are just some of the goodies and resources you can find at this organization that educates, supports, and helps homeowners in Elgin! So stop over and say hello! (Also make sure to check out one of NHS's windows that Betsy Couture and Chris Dansy decorated, through the DNA design committee's "Adopt a Storefront" program.)

Thursday, March 13, 10am - 3pm
Neighborhood Housing Services
163 E. Chicago Street

YWCA Elgin Leadership Award
H.S. Senior Women: A scholarship to help with advanced education!
In celebration of its 25th Annual Leader Luncheon on May 8, 2008, the YWCA Elgin will honor a graduating high school woman seeking an advanced education. An initial $1,000 scholarship renewable for three additional years will be presented to the recipient at the celebration. Applications and instructions regarding the award are online at
Questions? Contact the YWCA, 847-742-7930.
Deadline for this application is March 14!

Rollicking Weekend at the Hemmens
Brigid's Cross & Ides of March Perform
Brigid's Cross and special guest Beth Patterson will bring you an exciting blend of traditional and contemporary Irish music. Mention this e-mail when you order tickets and receive a 25% discount to Brigid's Cross!

The Ides of March will perform the next night with their signature horn riff. Their show spans three decades of music that includes Jim Peterik's catalog of Top 40 hits! For tickets call 847.931.5900) or go online to

Brigid's Cross - Friday, March 14, 8pm
The Ideas of March - Sat., March 15, 8pm
Hemmens, 45 Symphony Way

Run for Your Wife - Last Weekend

Performed by the Elgin Theatre Company
John Smith is an ordinary London cab driver with his own car, sets his hours, is hard working, punctual, etc. The exception is that he has two wives who don't know about each other! Adult tickets are $15. Students/Seniors $12. Call 847.741.0532 or e-mail For more info go to

Fri. & Sat., March 14 & 15, 8pm
Theatre 355, 355 E. Chicago Street

Two Plays by the Independent Players

This is the last go!
"Hay Fever"
General Admission $15, Seniors $12, Students $10. For tickets and information call 847-697-7374. Leave name and number and IP will call you back. Fri. & Sat., March 14 & 15, 8pm Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division Street

"Story Theatre" General Admission $15, Seniors $12, 13yrs. and older $10, 12yrs and under $5. For tickets and information call 847-697-7374. Leave name and number and IP will call you back. Sat. & Sun., March 15 & 16, 3pm Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division Street

New Exhibits at the EAHS - "Old Main"

Celebrate the 2008 Re-Opening of the Museum Come see three exhibits: At the Ballet: Lisa Boehm's Nutcracker; 100 Years of Wing Park Golf; and Piano in the Parlour. At 1:30pm there will be an "At the Ballet" panel discussion program featuring: Clare Ollayos, Jean Keltner, Sandy Haggard, and Don Haefliger. Refreshments will be offered, and admission is free and open to the public. For more info call 847.742.4248. Sunday, March 16, 1pm - 3pm Elgin Area Historical Society 360 Park Street

St. Patty Specials in Downtown Elgin
Treasures await in the following places...

Elgin Public House - 219 E. Chicago Monday - Lamb stew, corned beef and cabbage, shepherds pie, and specials on Guinness, Harp, Smithwick's, & Killians. Call 847.468.8810 for more info.

Grand Victoria Casino - 250 S. Grove Monday - J.P. & the Cats will perform their high energy music & laidback comedy from 7pm - 12am at the Fox & Hound in the Casino. Specials during March are Tuesday's $3 Guinness at Fox & Hound or feast on a "Spring Dinner Buffet" every Wed. for $12.99. For more info call 847.468.7000.

Martini Room - 161 E. Chicago Street It's St. Patty’s Weekend! Friday: Complimentary appetizers - Akina's Thai Live entertainment - Inertia - 10pm;playing classic jazz, soul fused with house music. Cocktail specials: · Grey Goose Orange Citrus Martini $8 · Ginger Apple Long Drink $4 · Shamrock Shaker Martini $6 & Irish Car Bombs $4
Saturday: Guest DJ (Voodoo Schaumburg) 9pm Cocktail specials: · Banana Foster Martini $6 · Executive Sunrise $4 · Green Cookie Shot $3 & Irish Car Bombs $4
Monday: Complimentary appetizers. "Stepping on Suburbs" at 7pm, step dancing lessons and smooth, mellow music. Cocktail specials: · Most Martinis $2 OFF · $3 well drinks & Irish Car Bombs $4
Also Starting from Thursday, March 13th till Monday the 17th all green martinis are $2 OFF - Mermaid (fruity, exotic), Apple, Caramel Apple, Emerald, and Mint Chocolate. For more info call 847.741.0349

Oak Crest Atrium - 204 S. State Street Monday - 1st Anniversary Celebration for the Oak Crest Cellar Pub! Join them on St. Patrick's Day from Noon - 5pm, featuring traditional Irish food and old time favorites played by the popular "Rhythm Rascals". The community dinner will follow at 6pm, reservations are required, and there is a $10 donation per dinner. Call 847.742.2255 for more info and to make a reservation.

Senior Services Associates - 101 S. Grove Monday - 10am - St. Patrick's Day Celebration with Nicko Naidenov. For reservations call Minnie Vasquez at 847.741.0404

Walk & Roll Kick-Off After Hours
Hosted by the American Cancer Society
Come meet this proactive organization March 18, at their after hours, and join them in celebrating the 36th anniversary of Walk & Roll as they raise over $1.1 million to fight cancer. On May 10, you can participate in the first annual Walk & Roll Elgin event at Festival Park. Participants can register online at to sign up their team. To RSVP, get involved, or for more information, contact the American Cancer Society at 630-879-9009 x3 or e-mail

Tuesday, March 18, 4pm - 8pm
Grand Victoria Casino, 250 S. Grove Avenue

JJ Fish & Chicken Lunch Specials
A relatively new restaurant to Downtown...
This chain used to just be in Chicago, but has now come to Downtown Elgin! Mixed with Pamela's soul food, and homecooked meals everyday, they also do catering for all occassions. Their lunch special is any entree (Chicken, Ribs, Fish, etc.), 2 Sides, and a 12 oz. drink for $4.99. And a dinner special that is $6.99. So stop by and say hi to Pamela and taste the food!

Open every day 10am - 10pm
JJ Fish & Chicken, 221 National Street

Easter Weekend is in One Week!
Have brunch at the Holiday Inn and more...
Spend time with family and friends and enjoy Holiday Inn's Annual Easter Brunch at their hotel. This year the Easter Bunny will be making a special visit to take pictures with the families. Their mouth-watering brunch includes made to order omelets, sliced turkey and ham, French toast, dessert, their chocolate fountain and much more! Costs are $17.95 per adult, $13.95 - Seniors 55 and over, $9.95 per child(5-12). To make reservations call 847.488.9000.

Sunday, March 23, 9am - 1:30pm
Holiday Inn & Suites, 495 Airport Road

Want to Post Your Easter Activity? - DNA Members or Downtown businesses/organizations send your activity to us via e-mail to before Tuesday, March 18.