Water Taxi Employee Fired for Video Defending Rain Tree: "Tell Him to Stick It Up His Ass and Fire Me"
|Sketch of Marina Lofts|
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.