Hawaii Kai cemetery may finally be built, despite concerns

Published: May. 31, 2015 at 8:57 PM HST
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HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It has been more than a decade since the city approved the building of a cemetery in Hawaii Kai. Those plans haven't gone anywhere since then, but work has begun once again, and that has some Hawaii Kai residents concerned.

It had been quiet for a year and-a-half on the 69-acre parcel in Kamilo Nui Valley, tucked in the back of Hawaii Kai. But a few weeks ago, trucks began bringing in material to the parcel, according to Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board member Natalie Iwasa.

"Our understanding is that there would be no activity back here until the owners have a cemetery plan in place. And as far as we're aware, there is none," she said.

Iwasa is also concerned about the material ,which says said is debris from city construction projects.

"There's cement, re-bar, asphalt. How should we be handling that? And this comes from government jobs. And shouldn't the government be responsible for where their 'opala ends up?"

Current property owner Hawaii Kai Memorial Park LLC said the material serves a purpose.

"This is base course, which is commonly used in construction for roadways, for foundation materials," said attorney William McCorriston.

The City Council originally approved construction of a cemetery on the parcel in 2001. But McCorriston said there have been delays, including one when a founding partner declared bankruptcy, which halted progress on the project.

The delay was so long that in 2014, the council asked the city's Department of Permitting and Planning to investigate.

"The Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board has raised concerns that the stockpiling at the cemetery site is not being conducted in accordance with recommendations of geotechnical reports that were prepared for the property," said part of the resolution.

McCorriston said the property owners are in compliance. "We are subject to EPA inspections, Department of Health inspections, City and County inspections. In fact, a city inspector was just up there last week."

McCorriston said the owners have applied for a business license from the state and a master grading permit. If those are approved, construction could finally began later this year.

"In urban Oahu, really this is probably going to be the last permitted cemetery, so we look forward to providing that service to the people of Honolulu," said McCorriston.

However, Iwasa still has some questions.

"Does that really make a good foundation for whatever it is that they're going to be planning out here?" she said. "We have a lot of questions like that."

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