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Plans for community center in Monroe County set back by vandals

Officials are working to transform the former Barrett Elementary Center into a community center for the township.

MOUNTAINHOME, Pa. — Broken glass and graffiti are evidence of the damage done by vandals at the former Barrett Elementary Center near Mountainhome.

"It's very frustrating because we have plans for the building, and this is just adding additional cost and time to our plan," said Barrett Township Supervisor Pamela Gardsy.

Now officials are dealing with another break-in over the weekend. A group of about seven people made their way into the school. The cost of the damage inside is unknown. Pocono Mountain Regional Police are investigating.

"We again have plans for the cleanup — the water hooks up, the heating systems, all that stuff, but now we have to go in and clean up," Gardsy said.

Township supervisors say this isn't the first time the building has been damaged. Since the school closed years ago, all the windows on the building have been smashed and are now covered with boards.

Gardsy says the township is under contract to purchase the property.

The plan is to move the township's administrative office to the building and create an emergency shelter and community center.

"It's a one-stop shop for people," Gardsy said. "They can come there, and hopefully, we have other services throughout the town that can move on with us, and then they just have one place to go for everything they need."

Gardsy wants people to stay away from damaging the property further because she hopes this space can become a hub for the community.

"We just want to deter anyone from causing any future damage because, again, it's just adding to our time and our costs on getting this up and running, which is really going to be an asset to the community in the end."

Gardsy says if all goes well with the sale, the first offices to move in after some renovations will be the township's administrative offices.

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