MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- A ribbon cutting ceremony Dec. 13 signaled the completion of Palm Grove, 44 three- and four-bedroom staff-noncommissioned-officer duplex housing units within station base housing.
The ceremony was a culmination of efforts of a large team of individuals who planned, negotiated, designed and constructed the first 44 homes of 253 new housing units.
The new housing will be part of Headquarters Marine Corps’ and the air station’s Family Housing Privatization Initiative through the Public Private Venture process.
The Palm Grove homes, which were part of the PPV housing construction project, were completed Dec. 2.
The entire project, which started November 2004, includes 253 new units, a major renovation of 71 units, a light renovation of 128 units, and the construction of two swimming pools, club house, cabana and a number of playgrounds.
After the project is completed in approximately November 2006, it will dramatically improve quality of life for many Marines, sailors and their families, said Mark Smith, station Installation and Logistics housing manager.
The next group of units finishing over the next 30 to 45 days will be 50 three- and four-bedroom units for grades E-1 to E-5.
Unlike the old government housing, often referred to as the “sugar cubes,” the new housing is equipped with many new features.
They meet current fire and life safety codes, they have wall-to-wall carpet in the living room and bedrooms, a bathroom off the Master bedroom, walk-in closets, bulk storage inside the home and in the two-car garage, the kitchens come with solid surface countertops, large cabinet space, gas range, garbage disposal, dishwasher and 26-cubic foot refrigerators with ice makers, and combination microwave/ range top.
Every living room, kitchen, family room and all bedrooms are wired for cable and telephone. The units are also pre-wired for satellite dishes. More than anything, the units are much larger in size, ranging from 1,650 square feet to almost 2,100 square feet.
"There is no comparison (with the new homes),” said Maj. Gen. Michael R. Lehnert, Marine Corps Installation West commanding general and a native of Marine Corps Base Camp LeJeune, N.C. “The ‘sugar cubes’ were an embarrassment. We should have never put the Marines and their families in them. I'm delighted they're gone and we've demonstrated today that we can do better."
In addition to many the conveniences of the new units in housing construction of the PPV project, the improved image and amenities are only one aspect of an overall program to manage, operate, maintain, and repair to improve the quality of life for the military families faster and to an increased degree than could be achieved under current Department of Defense programs, said Smith.
“When you give Marines a better quality of life, it instills a lot of pride in the ownership of their homes, so people will take care of them more,” explained Maj. Ly Fecteau, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron deputy director of Installation and Logistics and a native of Dover, Del.
“This is a great day for the Corps, and most importantly, this is a great day for the Marines and their families,” said Lehnert.
Lehnert explained that when his father was a staff sergeant during World War II and the Korean War, he left the Corps eight months after he was born because he didn't want his wife and son living in a sixteen-foot trailer.
“I am absolutely committed to better housing for our Marines and sailors,” said Lehnert. “If Staff Sergeant Lehnert lived in (houses like these), he would have stayed in for thirty years."