The future of a crumbling Moray landmark will be decided by councillors next week amid concerns that its condition could pose a risk to the public if its not improved.
The Keith Institute has fallen into disrepair after laying unoccupied for the past three years with around £166,000 needed to protect its exterior from further decay.
At a council meeting next Wednesday, elected members will hear that a Keith regeneration group is willing to cover £90,000 worth of repairs – if the local authority agrees to provide the other £76,000.
A report said that £88,000 is needed for stonework wall repairs with the roof repairs to cost £60,000, not including professional fees.
The report added: “If they are not dealt with timeously, these fabric issues may lead to possible water ingress and a health and safety risk from falling masonry.”
The cost of repairs will escalate in the future if action is not taken to prevent further damage.
In January, the Keith and Strathisla Regeneration Partnership commissioned a feasibility study into possible uses for the institute.
The money being offered by the Keith Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) is only available until the end of March, with work to be completed by then.
Valery Dickson, who is chairwoman of both the partnership and the Keith CARS steering group, said: “We’d love to see a real use for this iconic building.
“We hope the £90,000 we have pledged will act as an incentive for the council to spend some money.
“We have had some interest from a music school, and are investigating a number of possible uses for the building.
“The institute is of sufficient size that it could be sub-divided for three or four different purposes, such as a cafe, nursery or museum.
“Once we get it wind-proof and water-tight we have a better chance of finding someone willing to spend money on it.
Keith and Cullen councillor Gary Coull has long campaigned for the restoration of the B-listed building, which has occupied its site on Mid Street since 1886.
Yesterday he said: “This seems to be a sensible opportunity for the council to lever in additional money to help carry out some necessary works.
“The hope is that when the exterior is restored, a group will come forward to take the building on.”