HONOLULU (KHON2) — Community members say an unowned cemetery in Pearl City, known for its homeless camps, sinkholes and overgrown grass, continues to be a hazard.
Some are so discouraged that they consider spending thousands of dollars to remove the remains of their loved one.
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“It’s the last thing you do for them when they leave, you don’t feel good about it. Not at all,” said Tuli Tafai, whose grandparents are buried in Sunset Memorial Park. my grandfather for us, he was our king and that’s not how you treat a king”,
The City and County of Honolulu says the cemetery’s current owner is Hawaiian Cemetery ASSN LTD, but those working on rehabilitating the park say the property has been missing since the owner died a few years ago.
Laws have been passed recently to allow volunteers to clean without liability, but there is little they can do.
“I don’t even think we, these community groups, would have the equipment to take care of this stuff, you would need industrial-scale equipment to take care of this stuff,” Tafai said.
Former volunteer Darrell Salvado notes that the owner did not keep records for many plot purchases and that the records kept burned in a fire.
Salvado adds that some people with receipts for the purchase of land who are planning burials in the coming months are hoping there won’t be another skeleton buried in their land.
Some with relatives buried there are looking for ways to get out.
“It’s not cheap. I think we tried to look at what it would cost and it was in the tens of thousands of dollars,” Tafai said.
Pearl City Ward Council President Larry Veray said he met with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs last week to discuss the possibility of asking the courts to dissolve all companies linked to the cemetery in order to open it up to someone to take over.
Many, including Veray, hope the state can pick up the slack, but liability and maintenance costs remain a concern even if the DCCA is successful.
The DCCA is also working on an interactive website with a recent survey of each headstone and its corresponding GPS position.
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Veray says a community cleanup is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 19 at 7:00 a.m.