The Orlando City Council spent nearly $6 million Monday to save a tree.
But what a tree, its fans said.
Actually, the city got a whole park, a full city-block in size on the eastern edge of downtown, for $5.85 million. Constitution Green has been a city park for decades, but it was privately owned and the land was leased to the city. Under development pressure, the owners saw prospects for a greener field, planted with concrete and steel.
In the heart of the park is a massive, 125-year-old live oak with huge boughs that rise, dip down, bury themselves, and rise again. The community rallied, literally and with a petition drive, to save the tree, Commissioner Patty Sheehan joined in, Mayor Buddy Dyer threatened eminent domain in negotiations, according to the Orlando Sentinel, and a deal was struck. City Council approved it Monday.
“This is a ‘treemendous’ day,” said Orange County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor Eric Rollings.
The deal is not all cash. The city is paying Mabel Groves LLLP $3.34 million in cash and throwing in another piece of downtown property, worth $2.51 million.
“I am so pleased to have Lake Eola Park in my district. But Lake Eola is like a rock ‘n’ roll club, and Constitution Green is like classical music,” Sheehan said.