Las Olas postcard l1600A postcard from the 1940's show the palm trees planted in the median of Las Olas Blvd. as a World War I memorial in what is now the Idlewyld neighborhood of Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Gripes are growing: Don’t mess with Las Olas and its tree-lined median

By Susannah Bryan
via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper web site 

Judging from the rumblings, not everyone is in love with the idea of an extreme makeover for Las Olas that will forever remove the tree-lined median — a timeless touch that helped the iconic boulevard win a national competition for most beautiful street in America.

The coming redesign of the 2.4-mile historic corridor has tongues wagging and keyboards clacking, with residents blasting their opinions on social media and in emails to City Hall.

Las Olas Blvd. Sun Sentinel photoA dramatic transformation is on the way for historic Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. Carline Jean/South Florida Sun Sentinel“Removing … the center trees is crazy to me ,” one man from Las Olas Isles griped.

Another complaint came from a longtime resident and activist in the Harbor Beach neighborhood: “Majority are very critical of removing the trees for both loss of charm and shade. Not a popular plan with little support. What’s the alternative?”

Even a guy from Denver weighed in.

“I’m 1,703 miles away, haven’t been a part of the discussion and may not know all the facts about the changes to Las Olas Boulevard,” he wrote in a letter to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “But there is the old phrase about the forest and the trees. This decision will come back to haunt city leaders.

“I remember after the tree-lined median was planted how bearable it was to visit the Las Olas Arts Festival at midday because of the shade. … Leave the center median in place and prevent those inevitable head-on collisions.”

The redesign will cost close to $140 million, according to early estimates. Now Fort Lauderdale leaders have to find a way to pay for it.

Commissioners signed off on what they called “ the vision ” Tuesday night, but they say there will be tweaks along the way.

“All of this will be fleshed out as we continue,” said Commissioner Steve Glassman, whose district includes Las Olas and the surrounding neighborhoods. “We are accepting a vision, then we will go through the design phase. All along the way we will have public input. It’s still a long road.” 

Read the entire article on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel web site here:

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