Yuma Sun

D.C. should help on costs to move Yuma fairground­s

Yumans have long supported military efforts here, but safety is paramount


Attend any event at the Yuma County Fairground­s, and chances are, you are going to get a bonus show, compliment­s of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

It’s not unusual to see – or hear – military aircraft of all shapes and sizes as they take off and land from the base, which is located directly across 32nd Street from the fairground­s.

The proximity of the two facilities has raised concerns about the safety of the fairground­s for years.

Think about the “What if” scenarios. What if an F-35 had to make an emergency landing, and that landing happened in the middle of the fairground­s while a major event was happening, such as the Yuma County Fair?

This isn’t an impossible scenario.

Longtime residents likely remember the Harrier that crashed in 2005 in Yuma, landing in a swimming pool in the 1500 block of Kuns Court. The jet was carrying live ordnance, and at least four homes were damaged – one of which was later demolished from the damage sustained during the crash.

The pilot safely ejected, and there were no serious injuries. But Kuns Court isn’t very far from the fairground­s. It’s easy to see how that scenario could have ended much differentl­y.

The reality is, planes can and do crash. Going through the Yuma Sun’s archives, one can see that accidents happen – Yuma is no exception.

And to be very clear, MCAS Yuma is a vital part of Yuma, as are the fairground­s.

But it’s understand­able why relocating the fairground­s has been a priority for both Yuma County officials and officials at MCAS Yuma.

At the core, it’s a safety issue. There is a risk every single time a plane leaves the facility.

Relocating the fairground­s elsewhere within the county is a move that makes sense.

However, that move isn’t going to happen without the support of the federal government, and with each passing day, the costs continue to increase.

A study in 2016 found it would take more than $94 million to move and upgrade the fairground­s, noting that the existing facility was in the base’s “accident potential zone” and “clear zone,” areas where there should be little to no permanent constructi­on.

Last year, Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines noted it would take about $170 million to permanentl­y relocate the fairground­s – a significan­t jump from that 2016 estimate.

There are ways to defray those costs, one of which is through the federal government providing a new parcel of land to the fairground­s.

Yuma County Supervisor Tony Reyes noted recently that only 8.8% of Yuma County is private land, which makes it challengin­g to find a private parcel to purchase. The bulk of the property in Yuma County is owned by state or federal entities. However, this is something with which the federal government could assist.

Yuma County has a long history with MCAS Yuma, and Yumans are very supportive of both MCAS and Yuma Proving Ground. The community opens its doors to the bases, and when it’s time for events such as Weapons and Tactics Instructor course, Yumans turn out in droves to watch the live exercises unfold across the region.

The relationsh­ip between the community and the military is strong.

It makes sense to move the fairground­s, and for the federal government to help cover the costs, starting with providing a parcel of land to do so.

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