AUBURN — Paint the fire escape. Caulk the windows. Scrape the peeling Community Little Theatre logo from the doors.

That was the charge given to 28 volunteers Thursday morning at the Great Falls School in Auburn. The people, mostly workers from Paychex Payroll Services in Auburn, spent much of the day making fixes to the often-neglected building.

“This really is the kick-off of our work here,” said Tracey Steuber, a community relations worker at Auburn City Hall. “There’s a lot more to do. Right now, we’re reminding people that we’re here.”

Joni Gordon and Trina Hackett, both of Mechanic Falls, spent their morning working on the auditorium doors, scraping away the Community Little Theater logo, which clashed with the new color scheme. Then, they painted the doors dark brown.

Both have attended plays here, but they planned to see more after lending a hand.

“You feel like you’re a part of this place,” Gordon said. “It makes you more invested.”

Steuber hoped drivers passing the school would see the people and the cars and the improvements, however small. Big changes will take action by the City Council.

The building’s reputation needs as much work as its walls, Steuber said.

The longtime home of the Community Little Theatre and Edward Little High School’s Drama Club has been targeted as an arts center since the mid-1990s. No large-scale renovation has ever happened.

The reason is money.

Last fall, a Boston-based consultant figured that an ideal solution to the building might cost $7 to $10 million. However, the same consultant suggested putting off big money fixes for several years and instead, stop its decline by doing regular maintenance and making inexpensive changes to remind people that the building is thriving, the consultant said.

Besides the two drama groups, the building has a dance company and a yoga instructor. And there’s space in the 53,000-square-foot structure for more.

And the flagship tenant — the Community Little Theatre — is staying put for a while.

“We’re committed to giving the City Council a chance to make progress here,” said Doreen Traynor, the theater company’s executive director.

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Holly Dostie of Paychex in Auburn paints the fire escape at the Great Falls School in Auburn. She and a dozen other coworkers joined workers from community businesses in helping clean, paint, build and perform numerous other improvements to help the United Way.


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