Vandals smash plaques at park
Art Nottingham says he's just sick about it.
Vandals apparently pried loose a sponsor's plaque from downtown Yuma's Armed Forces Park and smashed it to pieces. In doing so, they also severely damaged the plaque next to it.
The vandalism was discovered Tuesday at noon when Nottingham and another man went to install several more of the heavy granite plaques.
The damaged plaques cost $500 each to put up and will be replaced by the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce, Nottingham said Tuesday.
"It's just a shame," he added.
Nottingham said the vandals were clearly aiming specifically at the Rough Riders Motorcycle Club, which was named on the plaque that was pried loose and broken.
The damaged plaque next to it belonged to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, which is an organization devoted exclusively to combat-wounded military veterans.
Nottingham said he believes the damage was done by an enemy of the motorcycle club.
"We just need people, when they drive by, if they see any suspicious people to call the police," Nottingham said.
He said if the suspicious activity is going on during weekdays, the public can call him at 726-2851.
The park was formerly home to Yuma's old railroad depot, which was later used as the Yuma Arts Center before it burned down in 1993. The city currently owns the half-completed park.
The park is the first one of its kind in Arizona dedicated solely to military veterans, living or dead. While much work has already been done on it, much remains to be done.
Chamber officials have said it will cost $180,000 to build the park. The money is coming solely from the sale of individual plaques for $100 each and the sale of sponsorship plaques for $500 each.
Nottingham said he hadn't contacted the police yet, but intends to.
Tuesday's discovery isn't the only time the park has had problems.
About a year ago, transients began using the park as a restroom. It got so bad that the park had to shut down temporarily.
Skateboarders have also damaged the cement walkways.
The park is meant to be a calm oasis honoring the service of U.S. military veterans. Some people have purchased plaques for all of their family members who have served and had the plaques installed side by side.
Anyone interested in purchasing a plaque can contact Nottingham or the chamber at 782-2567.