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Maui Veterans Cemetery is expanding

Additional columbarium space and memorial wall planned

Gravel and dirt fill a former paved parking lot at the Maui Veterans Cemetery on April 2. Two construction projects are ongoing at the Makawao site to expand the cemetery and add 640 columbarium niches. The Maui News / MELISSA TANJI photo

MAKAWAO — Two construction projects to expand the Maui Veterans Cemetery in Makawao and add a memorial wall are expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2022, the state Office of Veterans’ Services said this week.

The $5.7 million cemetery expansion and improvements project is scheduled to be completed around September, while an approximately $1 million project that will add 640 columbarium niches and a memorial wall is expected to be finished in December, said Ret. Col. Ron Han Jr., director of the state Office of Veterans’ Services.

Both projects are being paid for by grants from Veterans Affairs.

Caution tape and barriers were up this month to keep visitors away from construction areas at the entrance to the cemetery on Baldwin Avenue.

The long-awaited expansion and improvement project includes a new maintenance facility, 500 precast double-depth crypts, space for 308 in-ground cremated burials, a new access road, new visitor parking lot, new flag assembly area, new water tank and irrigation system, along with perimeter fencing and landscaping, Han said.

The Maui Veterans Cemetery is due for a long-awaited expansion that will include a new maintenance facility, 500 precast double-depth crypts, space for 308 in-ground cremated burials, a new access road, new visitor parking lot, new flag assembly area, new water tank and irrigation system, along with perimeter fencing and landscaping. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Original expansion plans have been pending for years. In 2015, the Makawao Cemetery Association, which owns and manages the Makawao Cemetery next door to the Maui Veterans Cemetery, sued state and federal veterans affairs agencies over the impact of the project, expressing concerns that included the use of a shared parking lot, an entrance, the removal of trees and other issues. The association also said the project would degrade the historic charm of the cemetery where notable burials include Henry Perrine Baldwin, who co-founded Alexander & Baldwin.

In late 2015, work on the expansion project stopped after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was found to be noncompliant with federal historic preservation laws.

Han said Monday that the legal issues related to the expansion project have been resolved since 2019. Adjustments were made, primarily the realignment of the cemetery entrance road to avoid the two existing Cooke pine trees and the creation of a large grassy area adjacent to the cemetery.

The entry gate design was also modified, a low rock wall was added, the parking lot configuration was adjusted and the landscaping was modified.

Han said the memorial wall project will allow families to place a memorial grave marker when a loved one’s ashes are scattered at sea or another place outside the cemetery.

Willie Taroma of Kihei Garden Center carries a length of 4-inch pipe while working as part of a crew putting in a new main waterline at Maui Veterans Cemetery in Makawao in early March. Long-awaited expansion and improvement work is now ongoing at the cemetery and is scheduled to be completed around September, while a project to add 640 columbarium niches and a memorial wall is slated for completion in December, the state Office of Veterans’ Services said this week. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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