HONOLULU (KHON2) — There’s a novel proposal in the works for a Pearl City cemetery that’s been plagued with problems for more than a decade. A local lawmaker wants to install solar panels over Sunset Memorial Park, with hopes of generating money and a solution to its list of problems.
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Sunset Memorial has had problems with homeless setting up camp over the gravesites, vandalism, and theft of urns, even the remains. Not to mention the holes on the ground where the tombstones are, and the general maintenance issues of overgrown grass.
“It’s a deplorable situation and the problem is, right now it’s in limbo. It’s in a trust so nobody has responsibility to take care of it,” said Sen. Glenn Wakai.
There was a proposal for the state to take over but Wakai said it didn’t pan out because of the cost. He recently noticed the Hawaiian Electric substation next to the cemetery.
“That is the gold mine for the cemetery and the way out from this terrible situation,” said Wakai.
The entire cemetery covers about five acres. Sen. Wakai said the plan is to cover the whole thing with solar panels about 10 feet off the ground.
“That solar panel, through a developer, will make $7 million profit in 20 years. So that’s gonna be the means in which to help maintain the facility,” he said.
Wakai said it should be easy to find a developer willing to do it because they will get some of the profits. The rest will go into maintaining the cemetery and he plans to find a non-profit group that will then have the money to do so. That money can also help secure the place.
“Community wants gates, they want cameras, they want some measure of security. They want a nice entryway in there, so all of those things can be negotiated because now we have a potential pot of money,” said Wakai.
“It’s to me, a step in the right direction, if everything goes well. The hardest part is to start,” said Maureen Andrade.
Andrade has seven relatives buried at Sunset Memorial. She goes there every Sunday to visit them and help clean up the area. She said she has a good feeling about this idea.
“Nothing’s done now, so even if it’s another five years, who cares? I mean it’s something that we can look forward to and maybe this is a start for other gravesites that have not been maintained,” said Andrade.
Wakai will hold a town hall meeting at Waiau District Park on November 16 from 6-8 pm to get feed back from other families.