Free parking in downtown Carrboro could soon be a thing of the past.

Carrboro’s Board of Aldermen had a discussion on managing downtown parking at a meeting in mid-June, following a meeting in early May which featured a presentation on parking difficulties in the downtown Carrboro area.

Mayor Lydia Lavelle says the time has likely come to consider implementing paid parking.

“This represents a pretty big change in Carrboro, if we decide to go forward with it,” says Lavelle.

The vote instructing town staff to look at the possibility of implementing some pay-for-parking plan in downtown was 4-3, with Lavelle, Bethany Chaney, Damon Seils and Sammy Slade voting to move forward with Barbara Foushee, Jacquelyn Gist and Randee Haven-O’Donnell voting against.

The town has been grappling with the issue of replacing the parking that will be taken away during construction of the 203 Project, which will house the Southern Branch of the Orange County Public Library and some other offices at 203 South Greensboro Street. The site is currently a surface-level parking lot.

Lavelle says the town is considering some kind of parking structure, which would likely feature some form of paid parking.

“We’re nervous about creating any kind of structured parking, if we go that far, which would be paid parking, without then really having to come up with a mechanism for our other lots,” says Lavelle. “Because then everyone will just park in the free lots.”

While no specific plans have been made, Lavelle says the town will further look into the idea and plans to discuss the topic again in the near future.