comscore Cemetery proposal addresses community concerns | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Editorial | Island Voices

Cemetery proposal addresses community concerns

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Hawaiian Memorial Park Cemetery has been a part of the Windward Oahu community for 50 years. Most Windward residents have family and friends interred there. Because of the time it has served the community’s burial needs, it is reaching the maximum amount of burial space.

There is a shortage of burial space on the Windward side, and most people whose family members are memorialized by burial or cremation in a cemetery would naturally like to be buried near them.

Hawaiian Memorial Park Cemetery has 156 acres of undeveloped land. We would like to use some 56 acres of that, converting about 35 acres for cemetery use, with the other 21 acres placed into a permanent cultural preserve and re-vegetated with indigenous plants.

A recent commentary piece in the Star-Advertiser ("Cemetery must not be allowed to expand," Island Voices, Sept. 8) and quotes by cemetery opponents in subsequent articles do not accurately represent the situation related to the proposed development by HMPC.

Both the opinion piece and the headline of the Star-Advertiser article ("Cemetery asks city to OK plan state rejected," Sept. 9) implied that because the state Land Use Commission (LUC) did not approve the original development plan, Hawaiian Memorial Park is trying to make an end run around the commission’s decision by going to the City and County. This is not the case.

When the LUC did not approve our plan, one of the reasons stated was the need for it to comply more closely with certain provisions of the Koolaupoko Sustainable Communities Plan. Submitting the HMPC development plan to the planning process was the most reasonable way to ensure the proposed expansion would be compatible with the sustainability plan.

Some of the information from opponents stated in the opinion piece and in the article was inaccurate or misleading. For every issue raised by opponents of our plan, whether it is flooding or cultural issues or water quality, the HMPC plan is not creating a problem. In fact, we are providing solutions for each of the concerns raised.

The likelihood of flooding, for example, will be decreased, not increased. HMPC’s design for the storm water system will meet the 100-year storm event, which is beyond the city’s minimum requirements (10-year storm event).

When it comes to water quality, the HMPC plan, which utilizes bio-swales and other natural basins, will improve, not degrade, the quality of the water reaching Kaneohe Bay and Kawa Stream. Moreover, cemeteries do not affect ground water, as some have claimed.

HMPC recognizes historical and culturally important sites consistent with the Koolaupoko Sustainable Communities Plan, and our proposal will enhance preservation of historic and cultural sites. By establishing a cultural preserve of approximately 15 acres, HMPC will ensure protection and long-term maintenance of Kawaewae Heiau and the other significant historical sites located on HMPC land.

We have listened to all community concerns and made numerous adjustments to our proposal, including a commitment to never use the property for residential housing and to create a buffer zone between the cemetery and adjacent houses.

Cemeteries play an important role in our communities. HMPC’s mission is to ensure we fulfill that role conscientiously, with every consideration to our neighbors and the families who have trusted us to provide an attractive place to memorialize their loved ones.

The proposed plan we are submitting to the sustainable communities planning process will ensure we can continue to fulfill that mission.

 

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