CHAPEL HILL-Hundreds of local residents gathered Saturday afternoon at the site of the Chapel Hill Public Library off Estes Drive to celebrate the opening of its newly renovated facility—and it’s a project that’s been about a decade in the making.

“Dreams of more than a generation of Chapel Hillians are the mortar holding these bricks together,” says Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, who was one of several local government officials to deliver remarks during the ceremony. “These are the kinds of days when I pinch myself and ask, ‘Am I really the mayor of this great town?’ Look at what we can do, and look at what we have done.”

Town Council members Sally Greene and Jim Ward also gave brief speeches, along with County Commissioner Alice Gordon.

For the past ten years, budget constraints have put the undertaking on hold multiple times—and the financial burden still hasn’t been completely erased. Out of the $700,000 from the town’s budget that was projected for the new library, about $350,000 still has to be implemented into the library’s operating budget cost.

But after the ceremony, Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation President George Cianciolo said he’s confident in Chapel Hill Town Council’s ability to finish the job and keep the facility alive.

“I’m personally optimistic because in the past two citizen surveys, the library has been the second highest rated service in the town, behind only public safety,” he says. “The citizens appreciate this library, and when citizens come and see all the resources that are available there, I think they’re going to ask Town Council to fund it at the highest level that they can.”

In addition to Kleinschmidt, numerous prominent members of the library community also delivered remarks during the presentation, including Cianciolo, Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library President Martha Brunstein, and Interim Library Director Mark Bayles. Many local celebrities came to watch the festivities, such as Senator Ellie Kinnaird, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue, and recently retired Library Director Kathy Thompson.

While the building has actually been up and running for about two weeks, Saturday’s ceremony marked the formal ribbon-cutting, which took place at the end of the hour-long program.

The event also featured the talents of Phillips Middle School’s choir, who performed several popular music selections.

To honor all of the prose that the new Chapel Hill Public Library contains, CJ Suitt of the Sacrificial Poets also delivered a short poetic performance.

Stay tuned to for a full gallery of images from the event.