AUBURN — The yellow West Auburn barn doesn't look like much from the outside.
But Dan Bilodeau sees a community center set back from the road, with a boardroom for dozens of local recreation groups, historical displays and storage space for recreation equipment. Maybe a snack shack or a concession stand, too.
The main thing he envisions for the barn and the 6 acres it sits on already exists; people just have to use it.
"We have an easement, 15 feet on either side, that gives us access to the Old Spring Road and (Lewiston-Auburn Watershed Protection Commission) land," Bilodeau said. "So from this 6 acres, we have 227 acres that this borders and this lets people access."
Bilodeau, of the Lake Auburn Watershed Neighborhood Association, is working with local snowmobile clubs, Boy Scouts and community groups to transform the old barn at 115 North Auburn Road. He owns the barn and plans to formally donate it to the watershed association — and hopefully kick off a renovation.
"If they want to get involved, we want those groups to friend us on Facebook," Bilodeau said. "I see a board of directors set up to manage this, made of members of these other groups."
The Community Center has a Facebook page up and running.
Bilodeau said he'd like to see the back half of the yellow barn and an old milking shed removed. The remaining part, the half closest to North Auburn Road, would be moved back from the street. Volunteers would do some initial work, making sure the barn is secure and would last.
The rest would be up to community groups that would use the barn, Bilodeau said.
"Our motto is going to be 'something for nothing,'" he said. "If you come in here and want to do something, you can. I'm sure a group is not going to expect us to upgrade the facilities to accommodate them. I'm thinking that expertise will come with that group and they can do those upgrades and make those changes."
He imagines the center could one day become the center of life in Auburn's northwestern sector, with school groups and celebrations all calling it home.
But the land is open today — to those community groups. Bilodeau said he wants to use the land to encourage membership in local groups — snowmobile clubs, Boy Scouts, cycling clubs, local high school athletic teams, Lots to Garden and Healthy Androscoggin.
"Anybody that belongs to any of these types of organizations — and that's almost anybody — they can come out and use this," he said. "These groups are particular. They have their own rules. And they can come out and use the community center. And once the barn is completely restored, we want to have a big boardroom where they can meet and talk about community things going on."
Members of those groups now can use the barn's parking lot as a trail head to access abandoned Lake Auburn roads and hiking trails on private property and Lake Auburn Watershed Protection land.
"You don't need to have the barn finished to start using the land," Bilodeau said. "Summer, it's great for hiking and biking and equestrians. In winter, we have access to cross-country and snowmobile trails.