Brennan of The Tree
|Rendering: Marina Lofts/BIG
The case of Brennan of The Tree is getting a lot of publicity, mostly in favor of Brennan and The Tree. The tree is the famous rain tree that sits on the south side of the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale. It sits where a developer wants to put up another high-rise building in a section that already has too many. The tree is in his way. Brennan is Chris Brennan, the chap who lost his job with the Water Taxi because he refused to stop advocating for the tree. This happened after the developer, who happens to be Water Taxi’s landlord, complained about him. He is now a bartender, according to Sun-Sentinel columnist Mike Mayo. Judging by his quotes in the paper, and a video he posted online, Brennan should make a good one. He’s exceptionally articulate and bartending is one profession where advocating for almost anything will build a loyal following.
The rain tree may be the largest of its kind in the country. It received a protected designation from Fort Lauderdale some years back. The developer bought the property with the tree on it. Now he wants it gone to make room for two big buildings, including Marina Lofts (pictured here). He wants to move it. Many tree experts say the tree would not survive.
Does this situation remind you of people who move in on top of an airport and then complain about the noise of the airplanes or expansion of runways? Or souls who buy houses near railroads – railroads that were there 100 years before them – and then clamor for ordinances to prevent the trains from shattering their sleep with horns, horns designed to warn motorists at crossings that never should have been allowed in the first place?
This fight comes at a strange time. Those in favor of the project say it will provide needed jobs. There were plenty of jobs 10 years ago, and the buildings they went into now are filled with foreclosures. Do we really need another high rise on the New River, with thousands of units already approved and underway not far away in downtown Fort Lauderdale? And with traffic, at least in season, getting so bad that you actually have a hard time at rush hour getting out of your office parking lot?
We confess to a bias on the subject of trees. Our neighborhood, a famous hammock, is defined by its old oaks. You do not get such neighborhoods by cutting down the oaks. Enough go away naturally, and one, which sat on our property line behind the house, was uprooted in Hurricane Wilma. It was an unnatural natural event. There was an ancient mango tree in the yard behind us. The storm blew a huge section from the top of the mango down on our smaller oak. The oak was not ancient, but it wasn’t a kid, either. It was a foot thick when we moved in 42 years ago. Anyway, the oak was uprooted. Trees were uprooted all over the area that year, and many of them were propped back up, took root and are still there and growing.
In the frantic effort to clean up (we also had a major oak snap and land on our roof) we chose not to raise the tree on the property line. Had we done so, a builder would not have been able to put up a big (and currently unoccupied) house that replaced a cottage on the property behind us. The oak tree could not have been legally removed, especially with much of it on our property, and the swimming pool that goes with the big house would not have been built under the branches of an oak. The builder, by the way, cut down the old mango, which we guess was legal. We were just learning to like mangos.
So add one more voice in support of Brennan of The Tree. We may even run up to the joint where he is working to lend moral support.