Water Taxi Employee Fired for Video Defending Rain Tree: "Tell Him to Stick It Up His Ass and Fire Me"

Categories: WTFlorida
Marina Lofts 3.jpg
Sketch of Marina Lofts
It's pretty much the standard David-versus-Goliath battle of South Florida -- environmentalist versus developer. But in this case, a long-haired, laid-back outdoorsman is pitted against a hot-shot businessman who's tied to trendy projects in New York and Miami.

Chris Brennan is a 33-year-old who worked as a park ranger until Broward County outsourced those positions to private security guards. In 2007, Brennan got a job as a mate working on the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi, where he gave tours until about two weeks ago, when he was fired for making a YouTube video about the quest to save a 100-year-old rain tree.

"Every couple of years, some dude screws me out a job," Brennan says.
Asi Cymbal is a 43-year-old developer whose big accomplishment in life is helping to bring a Marshall's to downtown Miami. OK, just kidding -- in addition to developing the Midtown Center, he's a lawyer and a general contractor and has part-owned trendy Miami restaurants and bars including Gigi, Sra. Martinez, and Bardot. Cymbal has made a lot of money on investments in Miami's Design District and has now set his sights on Fort Lauderdale. He's hired one of the most sought-after architects in the world -- 37-year-old Bjarke Ingels, who's often called a "rock star" of the industry -- to design the Marina Lofts, a project that would consist of three towers and close to 1,000 condominium units on the New River. Some say the project could bring an injection of coolness to invigorate Fort Lauderdale's lazy, small-town feel. But to build the tower, builders would have to move a six-story-high, 100-year-old tree.

Although some Fort Lauderdale residents have loudly opposed Cymbal's development plan -- including environmentalists, conservationists, historians, and the people in the neighboring Esplanade condo, who would lose their water views if Marina Lofts were built -- Broward County commissioners in December voted 7-2 not to designate the tree as "historical," thus freeing Cymbal to relocate the tree and move forward with his project. Cymbal pledged to move the tree to a "Raintree Park" on his property, to hire the greatest arborists in the country to oversee the move, and to post a $1 million bond that he would lose if the tree dies.

Still, many opponents aren't budging in their opposition. 

And they have one recourse: the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, which declared the rain tree a "protected tree" in years past and in 1987 passed a resolution that it "shall not be removed or damaged" without the commission''s approval. 

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if he loves the trees, let him raise money and buy the land the tree sits on.  

you buy the land, and its yours to do what you want.  after all this is America!  we have personal rights.

I hate historical people that want other people's money to save things they don't want to pay for themselves.

If you want to save something, Go ahead.  buy it.  and its yours to do whatever the hell you want.  just don't Bitch when someone wants to do something else with THEIR LAND.


BFD!  cut the damn tree down.  plant a new one, and call it a day.


Yo that's messed up. I mean, Water Taxi can do whatever they want with their business, but that's an asshole move to fire an employee who (whether you agree with him or not) clearly cares about this city, for making a video in his spare time just because they thought that's what some developer wanted them to do. I have never had anything against Water Taxi, but this is the kind of b.s. that makes me like "F*** Water Taxi."


@LocalDude It is an endangered, PROTECTED tree. 

I'm not sure you can read.


Or just tell Water Taxi to take care of it and they'll cut it down themselves. Water Taxi will do anything anybody tells them to.


@LocalDude @FLNative 

Didn't realize I was supposed to come back to have internet arguments.  In one aspect you are right, I was misinformed. The tree is not endangered, it is the largest tree of its kind in the continental US. Obviously, if this is the biggest one, it isn't quite as common as you would to like people to believe.

However, the tree is protected and should remain so. I am glad you did a little research, and think maybe you should chill just ever so slightly. 

If this investor wanted to build and make lots of money, he should have researched his property just a bit. Or maybe he didn't see the giant tree when he bought the property. C'mon. 

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