Business owners in Port Charlotte are furious with the county.
Construction crews are working on a microtunnel project along U.S. 41, just south of Harbor Boulevard. Nearby store owners told WINK News that the project could drive them out of business.
Charlie's Pub has a loyal clientele, but their loyalty is being tested.
"My mom is handicapped, and we have no place to park," said Tery Moore, who frequents Charlie's.
While crews work on the project, the county has blocked off the majority of the parking spots near Charlie's, leaving the bar with five spaces during the day.
Gregg Bollinger, who runs Charlie's with his girlfriend, told WINK News that he's losing business due to the lack of parking.
"Nights like tonight we'll have -- just on the pool league teams alone, we've got 20 to 25 people just on the pool league teams. So, you're talking, if everybody drives in each vehicle, where are they going to park?" Bollinger said. "Everybody's got to pay bills. (The) mortgage is $1,800 a month, and with all the bills and everything, we'll wind up closing down within the year, because we aren't going to be able to make it."
Additional parking is available in a nearby grassy lot, but Bollinger said many elderly patrons find the walk difficult and choose to avoid Charlie's.
Jeff Keyser, the construction project manager, said occupying the parking spots is the lesser of two evils. He said the contractor wanted to implement road closures, which would have kept all vehicles from coming near Charlie's and nearby business. Keyser said blocking off a section of parking spots is necessary to keep people in the area safe.
Crews are expected to be out of the parking spaces in two to three months.