Trouble. . . or maybe. . .compromise in Paradise

The Hawaiian Memorial Park opened in 1958, one year prior to Hawaii joining the country as the 50th State.  The cemetery located out in Kaneohe on the eastern, or windward side of the island, was probably way out in the country and zoning issues were far from people’s minds.  More land was bought in 1982 and the business was bought by Service Corporation International (SCI) in 1999.

According to this article from KITV of Hawaii, in 2009 SCI was stopped from an expansion plan at the cemetery.  Actually, according to the article residents were given credit to stopping the addition. “Ten years ago, Kaneohe residents Grant Yoshimori and Julianne McCreedy were honored by the Legislature for their extraordinary dedication in overcoming overwhelming obstacles to stop the development plans of a powerful Houston-based corporation” read a portion of the linked article.

Today, however, SCI leaders are back trying to get land use to add SCI owned adjacent property as part of a 30 acre addition of new cemetery space with the necessary roads and infrastructure.  A spokesman for the cemetery mentioned that the cemetery now houses 41,000 burials and needs additional expansion for future burial sites.

In an interesting twist, many Kaneohe residents who were advocates of Yosimori and McCreedy in 2009 may now take the SCI side simply because they see the need for more space.  According to the article, a member of the Kanehoe Neighborhood Board, Mahealani Cypher said, “Among the elders, they felt that local families want to be buried together in the same place.  They want to ensure that space is there for them all to be together.  Local families are really sensitive to that thing.”

And, Maurice Radke, Chairman of the Keneohe Neighborhood Board also took a side appearing to be with SCI when he said, “They (SCI) have went above and beyond.”

On November 21, the Land Use Commission will start the hearing process which will involve SCI, the city, and the state.  According to the article, the commission works very much like a court proceeding, with both sides presenting evidence and interviewing witnesses.

Funeral Director Daily take:  I feel like I am very much in tune with the State of Hawaii and its people.  For over twenty years I owned and operated college basketball tournaments in Honolulu, Hilo, and Kona, and got to know and work with many Hawaiians in the process.  They have a powerful system of what they call “Ohana” or family and I can see how that would play out to make sure that there is burial space for all “Ohana” in a single location.  That is one thing that would certainly serve in SCI’s favor.

On the other hand, there is also a very strong sense of keeping what is undeveloped in the chain of islands, undeveloped.  So, I can see a push on the sides of those who prefer no development. . .whether SCI induced or otherwise.

In all liklihood, this is not an issue about Service Corporation International, but about the desires of Hawaiians and how they will continue to rule on the issue of development.  We will try to stay tuned and give you an update.

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