Plan to expand Makawao cemetery’s capacity

More than 14,000 new gravesites and niches could eventually be constructed in an overall expansion plan for the state’s Makawao Veterans Cemetery, which officials say is nearing capacity as its current site was “roughly” 85 percent full last year.

Included in the plans are a maintenance shelter, driveway and irrigation system for a 10-acre expansion site along with other improvements on the cemetery’s current 7-acre site along Baldwin Avenue.

The details of the expansion and improvements are part of a final environmental assessment and a finding of no significant impact that was submitted to the Office of Environmental Quality Control for publication in its bulletin July 8.

State Department of Defense officials said July 18 that the assessment is still under a 30-day review process scheduled to end Aug. 6. There is currently no set construction date as the project’s designs are being finalized, although officials hope construction could begin as early as the third quarter of fiscal 2014.

The state is still also in the process of purchasing 10 acres of private property adjacent to and northeast of the current cemetery. Defense officials said that most of the $5.3 million allocation for the initial portion of the project is going toward that land purchase.

As of June 2012, Maui County, which maintains the cemetery, said 2,802 gravesites, including in-ground and columbarium niches, are being maintained while 518 gravesites were available.

“MVC needs additional burial acreage to meet future requirements,” the final EA said.

Last year, an official with the Hawaiian State Veterans Services estimated that only one or two more years remained before the cemetery for island war veterans reaches capacity.

When work can finally begin, the in-ground crypts will be installed in phases.

The first phase would occur on the southwest portion of the expansion area near the northern boundary of the existing cemetery, the documents show.

Pre-placed concrete crypts will be installed during the first phase of construction consisting of about 500 in-ground burial crypts and an area for about 200 in-ground cremains.

The pre-placed, in-ground burial crypts are intended for full caskets and measure approximately 3 feet by 8 feet. The pre-placed in-ground cremains are for interment of cremated remains and measure about 3 feet by 3 feet, the EA said.

The final build-out of the expansion area would include up to 7,500 in-ground burial crypts and 2,900 in-ground cremains.

There will also be a columbaria walk, which will be developed as a future phase of the projects. There will be up to 3,800 columbaria niches that would be constructed, documents show.

Construction of an irrigation well and water tank may be developed in the expansion area in order to meet future water demands.

Development on the 7-acre existing site will include an installation of a driveway for access to the expansion area. The current driveway entries into the cemetery area and Kee Road intersection will be consolidated into one access point from Baldwin Avenue.

The existing parking lot will be relocated and expanded to provide up to 14 parking spaces. Two pine trees will have to be removed.

Gate and fencing will be installed for security.

The existing flagpole will be located closer to the committal shelter and a formal flag assembly area will be created. The area would incorporate the existing memorials.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at