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Thread: Park concept suggestions

  1. #1
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    Park concept suggestions

    I work in a suburban community that has (for the last 5 or so years) been undertaking a relatively large public park acqusition and construction effort ($17+ million effort). We are creating a pretty comprehenisve system (mostly passive parks) without a formal Parks and Rec. Dept. We are fortunate that the County provide excellent active recreation in our community.

    As part of this effort we constructed a 10-acre "downtown-style" public square in the heart of the community anchored by a performance amphitheater. It has been very well received. It is a dynamic place.

    We also built a gigantic kids playground at another location. It is a signature facility that anchors a 30 acre passive park (mostly closed at this point). But the play structure is a huge draw.

    We also created a 3 mile greenway that terminates into an 85 acre passive park. This gets me to my point. The passive park is nice. It has trails, pavillions, bathroom facilities/trailhead, etc. But by design, it lacks a defining element.

    We are now Master Planning another tract. It is a 62 acre jewel. It has a 9 acre lake, small historic cemetery, numerous outbuildings, huge trees, meadows, etc.

    The question is that we really want it to have a special feature element and nothing pops out at the moment. The current Master Plan has trails, bathrooms, small fishing pier, open meadows, etc. But it really is similar to the 85 acre park mentioned above. The property has a great house that sits on the edge of the lake. We have explored rehabing the house for an events facilitity/arts center/etc., but the cost to rehab it may be prohibitive.

    What I am looking for is something creative or unique for a mostly passive park. (What I mean by passive is generally no ballfields.) We are a community that is willing to explore bold ideas. Any ideas or suggestions?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Hire a consultant. They exist to answer such questions.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee
    Hire a consultant. They exist to answer such questions.
    We have a park consultant already onboard. And a good one too. I was just looking for the collective wisdom of this group for something new, innovative or otherwise cutting edge.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Small things....

    Install one of those Jump Distance Tracks, you know the type where kids (and adults ) can try to jump as far as a pig or frog Those are always cool....I've only ever seen them at zoo's

    Install some climbing boulders

    Hopscotch Course

    Install a tug of war rope for up to 5 kids on each side, complete with a self retracting rope system and sand center for the kids to fall into.....(I've never seen this, I just made it up on the fly....so don't laugh..... ) The rope would be a large diameter (not too large though for the kids hands) with knots at ever 5 feet on each side of the center and the rope would somehow self retract (be taut) when not in use......This could be the difficult part, the retraction device can't be something that a kid could get their hands caught in.....better yet, maybe at either end is a bungee cord that allows for pulling but always returns the hard rope to its original location over the center.....hmmm......(© THE ONE INC.)

    How about a swing that allows kids to swing out into the lake......just be sure to quadruple the insurance policy to $10 million minimum....

    Paddle Boats......

    Canoes....

    Foot Bridge over the lake, if its a narrow lake.....?
    Skilled Adoxographer

  5. #5
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mallen
    We have a park consultant already onboard. And a good one too. I was just looking for the collective wisdom of this group for something new, innovative or otherwise cutting edge.
    Large, off-leash dog areas (1+ acres), maybe a large community pool and assoicated fieldhouse, 9-hole golf course, interactive sculpture area (stuff kids can play on) by a renown artist, large skateboard park, or a water park (contact Rockford, IL Park district - they have one and it is a major draw).

    The above is off the top of my head. Hope it helps.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  6. #6
    Google "Storm King" for one of the coolest, most unique parks I've ever visited. Sounds as if a progressive community such as yours could pull something like this off. Good luck (and stop making me jealous .... )
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    The climbing boulders is a great idea. Not knowing anything about your area, it could be integrated nicely and look somewhat natural. It attractes all ages. Otherwise, extra large sculptures (like a fish or animal) that kids can climb on will work too - it will become a landmark.

    When I was a kid, our city was building a park a block from the house, they placed a long (probably 30 feet) length of 60 inch diameter concrete pipe on the ground and back filled the sides so you could climb on top and left the ends open. It was a fun tunnel to play in for many years. I found out later it was left over from a city drainage project. Unfortunatley it was removed about four years ago because some kid jumped off the top and broke his leg. The city got sued and removed it. The "tunnel" had been there for more than 30 years before with no problems.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  8. #8
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    Google "Storm King" for one of the coolest, most unique parks I've ever visited. Sounds as if a progressive community such as yours could pull something like this off. Good luck (and stop making me jealous .... )
    That is PERFECT. That is exactly that type of idea I was hoping for. It may (or may not) fit our situation, but that is the type of creative concept I was hoping to receive.

    By the way, everyone's comments have been great. However, those are complimentary elements (canoes, paddle boats, etc.) that are important and will be included. But we are really looking for central element/concept. Putting a "there" there - so to speak.

    Any other ideas anyone?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Check Out Detroit's Campus Martius, may be a bit too downtown for your tastes, but it has multiple uses and is about as cutting edge as a park gets.

    http://www.campusmartiuspark.org/

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mallen
    We have a park consultant already onboard. And a good one too. I was just looking for the collective wisdom of this group for something new, innovative or otherwise cutting edge.
    In that case, let me see what I can cut and paste from prior clients. Wanigas can help.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    These may not be too far off from what you already have, but...

    How about some habitat restoration?
    How about a nature center and interpretive walks?
    How about an arboretum? (The one in Madison, WI is extremely popular.)
    How about an historical/cultural attraction, such as restoring the old house or recreating a pioneer farm, etc.?
    How about an observatory? (Assuming the park is not closed at night.)
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    If you're really into the Sculpture Park concept, you should also Google Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. Both incorporate very creative, scupltural design features in the parks themselves. For example, the Walker Art Center has a pedestrian bridge over a highway that was designed by a sculptor. Grounds for Sculpture is private, but was free to the public for many years before their foundation's funds went belly-up in the downturn of the stock market. It was made to showcase sculptures to be sold, so the collection is always changing. Socrates sculpture park in Long Island city, Queens, is another one, but I haven't hear much about that in recent years. Maybe the land became too valuable and was sold for development.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    If you're really into the Sculpture Park concept...
    Allerton Park in Monticello, Illinois is an excellent example

  14. #14
    Depending on the people you want to target:
    Shuffleboard court- for the seniors, little maintenance
    RC car track - low maintenance, little noise
    BMX track - great compliment to the trail
    Skateboard park - put out lots of trashcans though
    Pet park - for the walking "buddies", great compliment to the trail
    Driving range - into the water of course. Would probably add putting green also, but would be more maintenance too.
    Fountain park, with jets spurting out of the surface - (depending on your climate) expensive and high maint., but a great draw for the kids at City Walk at Universal Studios in Orlando.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian IlliniPlanner's avatar
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    Millenium Park in Chicago is a good example. I think anything that gets kids involved will work wonders. We recently put in a fountain (trying to remember the term), I believe it's called a "zero-grade" fountain where the water shoots up from the ground surface in alternating cycles and just amazes the kids, and even gets them in it. Unfortunately, the northern climate here only allows fountain use for about 5-6 months of the year.
    One lot of redevelopment prevents a block of sprawl.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by savemattoon
    Allerton Park in Monticello, Illinois is an excellent example
    Monticello, IL is an awesome town. I actually like the Forest Preserve park on the north side of town though. It has big trees, good ball fields, and nice pavillions. I was even here when it rained, and it's just so lush and beautiful. It's the way a park should be.

    So, if you've got lots of wooded areas in your town, leave them up, and clear a small area for fields and the like (if necessary). Picnic areas and pavilions are a great asset for a forest-setting park. The one in Monticello even has a stage in its pavilion, a good idea if you ever want to put on a show, or host a speaker or something.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  17. #17
    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    Monticello, IL is an awesome town. I actually like the Forest Preserve park on the north side of town though. It has big trees, good ball fields, and nice pavillions. I was even here when it rained, and it's just so lush and beautiful. It's the way a park should be.

    So, if you've got lots of wooded areas in your town, leave them up, and clear a small area for fields and the like (if necessary). Picnic areas and pavilions are a great asset for a forest-setting park. The one in Monticello even has a stage in its pavilion, a good idea if you ever want to put on a show, or host a speaker or something.
    Yeah, the trees will hide the behavior that you don't want to see going on from the road. In our city we have a park set off the road that is tree-covered and has several pavillions. My friend's first day at work, he found a "dime bag" of weed in the grass between two of the pavillions. Condoms can be readily found in any of the pavillions also. Must be that great view of Lake Erie.........
    Did I mention that the toilet and sinks get broken in the bathrooms regularly??
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ssnyderjr
    Yeah, the trees will hide the behavior that you don't want to see going on from the road. In our city we have a park set off the road that is tree-covered and has several pavillions. My friend's first day at work, he found a "dime bag" of weed in the grass between two of the pavillions. Condoms can be readily found in any of the pavillions also. Must be that great view of Lake Erie.........
    Did I mention that the toilet and sinks get broken in the bathrooms regularly??
    Are you saying you prefer paved playgrounds and no shade?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ssnyderjr
    Yeah, the trees will hide the behavior that you don't want to see going on from the road. In our city we have a park set off the road that is tree-covered and has several pavillions. My friend's first day at work, he found a "dime bag" of weed in the grass between two of the pavillions. Condoms can be readily found in any of the pavillions also. Must be that great view of Lake Erie.........
    Did I mention that the toilet and sinks get broken in the bathrooms regularly??
    Well, obviously the park district system and police department must suck where you're coming from.

    In Monticello, the park district people are there several times a day, and I'm sure the police keep a good presence in this area, as this part of Monticello is also a speed trap on the highway in front of the park. Monticello is also a nice small-town setting, and they have enough people to keep a handle on their park system.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  20. #20
    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    Well, obviously the park district system and police department must suck where you're coming from.

    In Monticello, the park district people are there several times a day, and I'm sure the police keep a good presence in this area, as this part of Monticello is also a speed trap on the highway in front of the park. Monticello is also a nice small-town setting, and they have enough people to keep a handle on their park system.
    We don't have a park district system. Our grounds maintenance dept. (that maintains parks and mows all city property) is shorthanded, as is our police department as we have gone through many budget cuts in the last few years. Recently 3 division head's were "released" due to budget constraints. Needless to say, policing our parks is the least of our problems being shorthanded.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  21. #21
    Quote Originally posted by savemattoon
    Are you saying you prefer paved playgrounds and no shade?
    Read my first post for my suggestions, maybe you missed that...........
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  22. #22
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ssnyderjr
    We don't have a park district system. Our grounds maintenance dept. (that maintains parks and mows all city property) is shorthanded, as is our police department as we have gone through many budget cuts in the last few years. Recently 3 division head's were "released" due to budget constraints. Needless to say, policing our parks is the least of our problems being shorthanded.
    I'm sorry for that. I hope things improve. Because forest preserves and pavillions really do help make nice parks and are great for "proper" social gatherings, if patrolled well.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  23. #23
    Try out here for some good inspiration about spaces and parks.

    http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/

    B.

  24. #24
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    Skateparks make great additions when constructed out of concrete and other like materials. Using concrete to sculpt rideable terrain adds not only a healthy lifestyle choice, but great asthetics when designed right. No longer are the days of cookie cutter, and institutionalized looking skateparks. Design has come along way. Here is one of my favorite most recent designs. This park is in Winnipeg Canada and was Designed and constructed by www.newlineskateparks.com, check it out here.
    http://newlineskateparks.com/concret...view.php?id=64
    It not only incorporates usable sculpture, but also allows for general public use as well with "plaza style" features. You can only achieve these parks with sculptable materials and people are now finding them much more cost effiecent in the long run compared to the ever degrading pre-fabricated skateparks of last decade.

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