Some New Derry neighbors oppose plans to convert old elementary school into treatment center

NEW DERRY, Pa. — A company is planning to convert an old elementary school in New Derry into a treatment center.

11 News talked with some neighbors, who say this has no place in an area with houses, schools and playgrounds.

David Spears has lived across from 314 Pittsburgh Street since 2009.

“At that time, it was a school,” Spears said. “Actually, I went to this school when I was in kindergarten.”

A few years later, it was bought by Wicklow Logistics, a fracking company.

The building is being sold again, this time to Angel’s Light Addiction Specialists, and could soon become one of their treatment clinics.

“I don’t think it would be very safe to put that in there,” Spears said.

Spears isn’t alone. While Channel 11′s Andrew Havranek was talking to him in his front yard, seven other neighbors showed up to talk about why they don’t want an addiction treatment facility at this location.

“They need to cordon this off. They need to have 24-hour security inside and out,” said Melissa Kaufman, who lives behind the building. “There needs to be something that’s going to show the neighborhood that ‘hey, we get it. We understand. This is what we’re going to do.’”

Neighbors worry the facility will be used as a halfway house and feel the company chose the location for a specific reason.

“They also said they were using, deliberately using the fact that there was no zoning for this area and they were going to do basically whatever they wanted,” Kaufman said.

They also worry because it’s close to ball fields and playgrounds, and because Derry Township doesn’t have its own police force. They use state police.

“Police at Kiski are 45 minutes away, and that’s the short one,” Kaufman said.

The township held a public meeting with Angel’s Light representatives last month in hopes to calm some of these fears.

On Monday, township supervisors sent a letter to Angel’s Light, saying the company fell “woefully short” at that meeting.

They held another meeting this week. No one from Angel’s Light was there.

Supervisors tell Channel 11 they have not heard back since sending the letter.

“Who knows whether they’re going to be able to stop them from coming in,” Spears said. “Probably not.”

“Not one person is against helping people,” Kaufman added. “We just want to know that our children are safe, our senior citizens are safe, individually we are safe. That’s the bottom line.”

Channel 11′s Andrew Havranek called Angel’s Light Thursday afternoon to get a comment on this proposed new facility but did not hear back.

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