Often times a municipality may be confronted with a tough decision
regarding the ownership and maintenance of their physical assets. For
the City of Park Ridge these tough decisions seem to come on a weekly
basis in the form of trees. A scenario might play out in the form of a
resident coming in and complaining that a tree is dying in front of
their house and that the city must replace it. Although the fact might
certainly be that the tree is dying, speculation may still remain on
whom actually owns that tree.
A lot of the times the City Forester will be able to go out to the
site of the tree in question and decipher who has proper ownership
either visually or with the help of a plat of survey. Other times
providing an answer is not so easy; this is where the Geographic
Information System (GIS) can be a valuable tool in its ability to supply
the City Forester with accurate measurements right inside the office.
GIS has the capability to easily measure the distance between a
property’s parcel line and the edge of road to determine whether that
tree is in the parkway or not. If the tree falls within the parkway then
it is the responsibility of the city to take care of, whereas if the
tree is located outside of the parkway, then the responsibility will lie
in the hands of the property owner.
The most important part for the City Forester to understand from this
point is the accuracy of the GIS data. When the parcel data comes from
the county and the roads data comes from an engineering consultant,
there can be a plus or minus factor on the measurements between these
two datasets within the GIS. None the less, GIS supplies easy access to
valuable information that can help when other means may require extra
time and money for similar results.