Sanford wants to spend $40K on tree tracking system



Officials in Sanford are defending their interest in buying a $40,000 program that would use GPS to track trees.

The program would mean each city tree is entered into a system that includes location coordinates, details about the tree and how often it has been maintained. It would take six weeks just to enter the tree data into the system, according to the proposal.

Carrie Baker moved to Sanford's historic district for its small town charm and big, tall trees.

"It creates a canopy and a sense of homeliness in the district," Baker said.

Baker said she was baffled when she heard about the plan to use thousands of dollars for the GPS tree tracking system.

"It seems like a crazy use of my tax money," Baker said.

But another resident and self-proclaimed "tree hugger," Jay MacPhee, loves the idea because he thinks trees help boost property values and improve aesthetics.

"I think it's money well spent," MacPhee said.

City officials said the tree tracking database will help them plan for maintenance, conserve trees and help them get money from FEMA following major storms that take down trees.

"We can go in and actually show an inventory and pinpoint, you know, we had a tree here and we had a tree here and now it's gone," Sanford's urban forester, Elizabeth Hareky, said.

The system would also be used to make sure people are not chopping down trees without permission.

The city of Casselberry used the same program, but it ran out of funding. Sanford leaders are applying for a grant to pay for half the cost.