Top

blog

Stories

 

Notre Dame D'Haiti Church Expansion Threatens Ancient Oaks, Angers Nature Lovers

Notre Dame Oak Tree2.jpg
Michael E. Miller
One of the dozen giant oak trees next to Notre Dame D'Haiti. This one is probably more than 100 years old.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.
Psalm 96:10-13

Last Friday the Herald wrote a fawning article about Notre Dame D'Haiti's plan for a new $3.2 million church. The piece contained nearly 1,000 kind words, 16 photos, and a little intro graphic titled "Sacred Ground."

But it left out the fact that Notre Dame's plan calls for cutting down at least seven of the churchyard's giant, ancient oak trees -- not to mention the anger that has caused among Miami's nature lovers.

"These trees were sprouts when the Civil War happened," says arborist Bob Brennan. "I'm amazed the city would even consider this building permit."

The grove of a dozen or so oak trees -- some of them estimated to be some 150 years old -- is likely the only of its kind remaining in Little Haiti.

Church leaders have applied for a permit to cut down at least seven of the oak trees (marking them with red spray paint) and move a large mango tree, although Rev. Reginald Jean-Mary says the plan isn't finalized.

But the likelihood of the grove's destruction is already dismaying Brennan and others.

Notre Dame Tree3.jpg
Michael E. Miller
Subliminal messaging.
"I don't understand who could even consider cutting down a tree that's 100 years old," says Ted Baker, a landscape architect for the City of Miami. "Whoever suggested to the folks at the church that that's OK to do, it's unconscionable."

"As a Christian myself I find a gross contradiction between the teachings of the Bible about preserving God's creatures and what they are proposing to do," says Baker, pointing out that the trees are also home to birds and squirrels.

Yet church officials say they are damned if they do cut down the trees, damned if they don't.

"We have had people sitting on the ground under the sun and rain worshiping God," says Jean-Mary. "We cannot keep those people in the sun and the rain. We cannot turn them away."

"We have been fighting for so long for this church," he says. "Why can't we build it? We are not doing anything wrong. We are building a church!"

Jean-Mary insists that the church is trying to save as many of the trees as possible while building a structure large enough for its 1,500 parishioners, plus a parking lot mandated by the city.

"We are trying to act in good faith," he says. "We are trying to save the biggest tree on the grounds."

"In order to build the church, some trees have to be removed," Jean-Mary argues. "How many times do they do that to build a K-mart? Or a Wal-mart?"

Notre Dame Tree4.jpg
Michael E. Miller
One helluva a tree.

But whether a Big Box of cheap Chinese goods or a Big Box o' Jesus, some nature lovers are ready to protest all the same. Brennan says he will lead at least 300 people to City Hall to denounce the plan unless the church turns another leaf.

Cutting down these trees -- some with trunks thicker than 6 feet in diameter -- is a mistake that neither the city nor the Creator himself can undo for another century and a half, he points out.

"We need to have development and we need to have growth and all that good stuff," Brennan says. "But we have to do it intelligently."

You can remove an old tree and replace it with a sapling or two, he says. "But if you can't replace that tree and its growth in your lifetime, then you really need to rethink your building plans."


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
29 comments
lourdes trigo
lourdes trigo

PLEASE SAVE THESE TREES!!! THEY ARE PRECIOUS!!   LIIFE IS PRECIOUSAND NEEDS TO BE RESPECTED!!  

Brad Knoefler
Brad Knoefler

Amazing!  We have just discovered that the City of Miami Police are instructing property owners to cut the trees in Downtown to "solve the homeless problem by taking away their shade".  In the 10 years that I have been here cutting trees has NOT solved the problem and my neighborhood is a concrete jungle as a result. 

And just wait until the new affordable housing project results in cutting the beautiful trees on NW 7th avenue between 6th and 7th streets!  Probably the only nice trees left in Overtown!

Customers live out of town
Customers live out of town

Face facts. The customers of the current tenant almost all live in North Miami. The boss and the customers live nowhere near the corner of NE 2nd Ave and NE 62nd St. They don't give a crap about the 100 year old trees.

They have no respect for history.

I hope the City landscape people and Code Enforcement people have plenty of photos.

Architect an idiot?
Architect an idiot?

100+ year old trees are very rare in developer happy Miami.

How could the church (is it a legal church?) architect be so insensitive as to think it would be OK to kill 10-11 majestic 100 to 150 year old oaks and other trees?

The architect must be a bozo.

Then just leave
Then just leave

This site used to be a girls school. The classrooms are still there.

If the Haitians hate the trees let them leave and go find another site.

The customers live on North Miami anyway.

Object to City planners
Object to City planners

Haitians chopped down almost every tree in Haiti, now they want to kill some of our most beautiful trees too.

Tell the City of Miami you object.

Any Hearings scheduled?
Any Hearings scheduled?

The trees are beautiful.

Miami has such few 100+ year old trees.

They should be protected.

Is there a Hearing scheduled?

Maybe the church should just move to N. Miami close to it's customers?

Haitians Kill Trees
Haitians Kill Trees

Is this the message Haitians want to send their neighbors?

WE KILL TREES ARE US!

Haitians kill trees
Haitians kill trees

Anyone ever been to Haiti? Every tree is butchered. The Dominican Republic has trees but Haitians kill any tree they can touch.

Haitians hate trees
Haitians hate trees

These trees have survived every stormand hurricane since 1875. They are beautiful. Haitians have been taking advantage of the shade provided by these trees for a decade.

Let us not let anyone kill these incredible trees.

tigger
tigger

Thank you New Times and Mr Brennan for working to protect those wonderous Oaks in a partof Miami which deserves as much plant protection as it can save. Those oaks may be so much older than we know. They have been chosen to survive and thrive by fate and the understanding  of those in the past who lived there and understood that green=shade=cool=air=serenity. We are destroying our heritage for a few more feet of cement and heat. Mayhaps we worship the wrong things????   

Lelalombardo
Lelalombardo

Boooo to Notre Dame D'Haiti!! The display of disconnect between the teachings of the Christian faith, the experiences of the environmentally ravaged nation of Haiti and the proposed plan to kill these beautiful trees, no less a creation of God, is astonishing but not surprising. How many stories have we heard coming out of the catholic church that express nothing but the complete opposite of what the church claims to stand for.I could write a lot on this issue, but here let me just say that this as many other stories out of the catholic church make their historic mark as anecdotes of people who do not know God at all.I thank the New Times for bringing this issue to the fore and at the same time must express my disappointment in the Miami Herald for their incomplete and skewed coverage of the story.

Nature should prevail
Nature should prevail

Are these people Christians? They should respect nature and history. Those trees have been in that neighborhood for 150 years.

Respect
Respect

Congratulations to Ted Baker for fighting to save majestic trees.

Anyone talking about how this church/business customers park all over the neighborhood?

Neighbors who love trees.

Trees are beautiful
Trees are beautiful

I drove by NE 2nd Avenue and NE 62nd Street today. Those trees are amazing.

Ted Baker from the City of Miami is right. Those 100-150 year old trees cannot be killed. They are our history AND our future.

Don't kill the trees.
Don't kill the trees.

$3.2 MILLION to spend in one of the poorest communities in the United States.

These churches and all the fake churches in Liberty City, Overtown, Brownsville and Little Haiti are businesses. They suck money from the poorest of the poor.

Show intelligence. Show respect. Don't cut down the trees.

NotWhatJesusWouldDo
NotWhatJesusWouldDo

Sickening that they have $3.2 million to spend on making a bigger church yet the area is full of poverty. 

Further proof organized religion is one of the best scams going.

Too many customers already
Too many customers already

This is crazy. If this church has too many customers now and not enough parking, then where will customers park if they build a new bigger church?

Already this site has parking problems.

150 year old oaks?
150 year old oaks?

The Rosa and Carlos De La Cruz Art Space was able to respect and preserve an old tree on it's proposed parking lot.

There is no reason to cut down trees that have survived 100 to 150 years. They need to be honored.

Need2Know
Need2Know

BTW, the city did not permit the De La Cruz museum to destroy old-growth oaks for parking, why should they permit the church? Do I smell a scent of class discrimination here?

Save the oaks
Save the oaks

The roots of some of those trees extend 150'.They are amazing.

Save the trees
Save the trees

Those trees, especially the majestic oaks are incredibly beautiful. The intersection of NE 2nd Avenue and NE 62nd Street only looks good because of that corner with all the beautiful trees.

The church admits almost all it's customers come from N. Miami and other cities. Why is this Minister so desperate to destroy one of the greatest group of trees within the City of Miami?

Is the goal to take in more money from the out-of-town customers? But why destroy the majestic trees?

Need2Know
Need2Know

Thank you New Times for writing this article. I find it obscene that the stewards of this church would even consider the destruction of the trees in light of the fact that their own country is almost uninhabitable due to the destruction of their forests. But I guess they need someplace to park their SUV's. There are plenty of lots around that neighborhood that can be bought cheaply in this market to accommodate their cars.

If not, then force them to move the trees. Treemovers out of Palm Beach county can give them an evaluation as to that potential.

cljahn
cljahn

"Ancient" would be a heck of a lot longer than 100 years or so.  These trees are barely "historic."  That said, the city should work with the group to preserve the trees, perhaps giving them a variance on parking requirements, and other alterations along that line.

Need2Know
Need2Know

100+ years in Miami is ancient. Thank you New Times for writing this article. I find it obscene that the stewards of this church would even consider the destruction of the trees in light of the fact that their own country is almost uninhabitable due to the destruction of their forests. But I guess they need someplace to park their SUV's. There are plenty of lots around that neighborhood that can be bought cheaply in this market to accommodate their cars.If not, then force them to move the trees. Treemovers out of Palm Beach county can give them an evaluation as to that potential.

cljahn
cljahn

Just because one lacks perspective, it does not mean we should accept misuse of language.  The carved circle on the Miami River is ancient.  A 100-year-old tree is merely old.  Still, I agree that the trees should be saved.  Poor management has left too few old growth trees in Miami-Dade County.  These trees are a treasure, and should be treated as such.

Even though they are not ancient.

Need2Know
Need2Know

Definition of ANCIENT from Dictionary.com

1: having had an existence of many years2: of or relating to a remote period, to a time early in history, or to those living in such a period or time; especially : of or relating to the historical period beginning with the earliest known civilizations and extending to the fall of the western Roman Empire in a.d. 4763: having the qualities of age or long existence: asa : venerableb : old-fashioned, antique— an·cient·ness noun See ancient defined for English-language learners »See ancient defined for kids »Examples of ANCIENT

The people in the village still observe the ancient customs of their ancestors.a grove of ancient oak treesThe practice was more common in ancient times than it is now.the gods of the ancient RomansShe studied both ancient and modern history.

Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...