A project that Cohoes leaders say will save the city millions of dollars will be used to provide needed repairs to historic buildings.

Cohoes’ city hall, the library and Cohoes Music Hall are what leaders consider three historic “anchor buildings” that are all in need of similar restoration projects. Even with available grant funding, City Planner Joseph Seman-Graves says a large financial commitment would still be required to qualify for the funds.

“We need matching money, and that’s always been the challenge for especially small cities with low to moderate income,” Seman-Graves said. “Where do you find the matching money?”

To cover some of the cost of the upgrades, the city has turned to what may seem like an unlikely source: light bulbs.

By swapping out every one of the city’s street lights with energy efficient bulbs, Mayor Bill Keeler says Cohoes will save an estimated $9 million over 20 years. They’re using a third of that money to secure matching grants for the restoration of the anchor buildings.

“We know the needs are significant and the time is now,” Keeler said. “You can’t kick the can down the road any longer on these buildings; they have been neglected for too long.”

Cohoes also plans to use some of the savings to invest in a floating solar array, which is predicted to reduce the city’s annual electric bill by half a million dollars.

“That is $500,000 we can reinvest back into our library, or our streetscapes, our sewer system, our water system, our infrastructure,” said Director of Operations Theresa Bourgeois.

Half of the $6 million needed for the array has already been secured through grants.

Read more: Cohoes street lights going energy-efficient to aid in restoration

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