It’s a story we’ve been following for years.
The cemetery grounds at Sunset Memorial Park in Pearl City have long been rundown, but now there’s another proposal on the table to address the ongoing problems.
State Representative Roy Takumi has introduced a bill that seeks a long-term solution to the maintenance issues and makes it easier for those who want to help upkeep of the grounds.
About once a month, Max Nonies and his wife Loretta come to Sunset Memorial Park to visit their loved one, and they bring their lawn equipment with them.
“I just kind of clear the grass around my grandfather’s grave and the ones surrounding him,” Max said. “At one point the grass was at least two to three feet tall.”
“You don’t even know if you’re walking on them so as I walk I say I’m sorry because I don’t know who I might be stepping on,” Loretta said.
Since the death of its previous owner, Sunset Memorial Park has no registered owner on record and that’s made it difficult to establish responsibility for the upkeep.
“The rubbish as you can see, nobody comes and dumps the rubbish. It’s all in disarray right now,” Max said.
Volunteers have tried to maintain the cemetery, however many stopped because of state liability issues.
A proposal is moving through the legislature that hopes to change that.
Takumi wants to limit liability for volunteers and nonprofit organizations who come to maintain the cemetery.
If it’s passed, the measure would also require the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs along with the state comptroller to develop short-term and long-term strategies for repairs and maintenance at Sunset Memorial.
The last time the state took over a cemetery was in 1946.
The Nonies are hopeful the proposal will bring a solution but they remain skeptical.
“I’m all for that bill,” Max said.
“I’ll believe it when I see it gets passed because it’s been too long,” Loretta said.
This bill has passed the House and is now with state senators. It’ll be up for discussion at a committee meeting this week.
We’ll continue to follow this story and update you on any changes.