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?